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Reader Comments on Death Penalty Issue

Britt R:

I don't think your stats are correct. Or maybe i am just very confused... or maybe the stats 
have changed DRAMATICALLY over the last decade. But i am researching the financial pros and 
cons to capital punishment and keep coming up with countless contradicting stats. I am finding 
it hard to know what to believe versus what i Want to believe. I have alot of trouble thinking 
someone one death row  (in the long run) is going to raqck up more "debt" ot cost more to take 
care of than a person spending the rest of their life in prison.
Excerpt from your webpage:
"Most people don't realize that carrying out one death sentence costs 2-5 times more than keeping 
that same criminal in prison for the rest of his life."
Excerpt from which i know looks biased and old but 
spells it out for me):
  Many opponents present, as fact, that the cost of the death penalty is so expensive (at least $2 
  million per case?), that we must choose life without parole ("LWOP") at a cost of $1 million for 
  50 years.  Predictably, these pronouncements may be entirely false. JFA estimates that LWOP cases 
  will cost $1.2 million - $3.6 million more than equivalent death penalty cases. 
Cost of Life Without Parole:  Cases    
Equivalent To Death Penalty Cases       Cost of Death Penalty Cases    
1. $34,200/year (1) for 50 years (2), at   
    a 2% (3) annual cost increase, plus   
    $75,000 (4) for trial & appeals   = $3.01 million       $60,000/year (1) for 6 years (5), at    
a 2% (3) annual cost increase, plus   
$1.5 million (4) for trial & appeals   = $1.88 million    
2. Same, except 3% (3)    = $4.04 million      Same, except 3% (3)   = $1.89 million   
3. Same, except 4% (3)   = $5.53 million      Same, except 4% (3)   = $1.91 million   

There is no question that the up front costs of the death penalty are significantly higher than for 
equivalent LWOP cases. There also appears to be no question that, over time, equivalent LWOP cases 
are much more expensive - from $1.2 to $3.6 million - than death penalty cases. Opponents ludicrously 
claim that the death penalty costs, over time, 3-10 times more than LWOP. 
(1) The $34,200 is conservative, if TIME Magazine's (2/7/94) research is accurate. TIME found that, 
nationwide, the average cell cost is $24,000/yr. and the maximum security cell cost  is $75,000/yr. 
(as of 12/95). Opponents claim that LWOP should replace the DP. Therefore, any cost calculations 
should be based specifically on cell costs for criminals who have committed the exact same category of 
offense - in other words, cost comparisons are valid only if you compare the costs of DP-equivalent  
LWOP cases to the cost of DP cases.  The $34,200/yr. cell cost assumes that only 20% of the DP-equivalent 
LWOP cases would be in maximum security cost cells and that 80% of the DP-equivalent LWOP cases would be 
in average cost cells. A very conservative estimate. The $60,000/yr., for those on death row, assumes 
that such cells will average a cost equal to 80% of the $75,000/yr. for the most expensive maximum 
security cells. A very high estimate. Even though we are calculating a 75% greater cell cost for the 
DP than for equivalent LWOP cases, equivalent LWOP cases appear to be significantly more expensive, 
over time, than their DP counterparts. For years, opponents have improperly compared the cost of all 
LWOP cases to DP cases, when only the DP equivalent LWOP cases are relevant"
Pat R:

The death penalty is typically equated and embroiled within a schematic of moral virtue and application, 
often with religious undertones - to deter that any human person should be able to make that decision for 
another person.
What is rarely debated, however, is the cost/benefit analysis of rehabilitation vs the kinds of other decisions 
that are made common under a similar cost/benefit analysis - as for example, the damages associated with a 
housewife or a disabled person whose income is anticipated to be relatively low.
Damages in those cases are not near those associated with corporate executives who, for example, make hundreds 
of thousands of dollars, or employed males who make tens of thousands of income - for which no moral virtue 
appears to be the deciding factor of what damages are appropriate.
Yet, society places more value upon prisoners who may spend most of their "primary earning years" locked up, and 
refuses to apply the death penalty in the same or similar principle of what any human life is worth based upon 
who does the killing and who can be held responsible for it, or for how much.
Illogical from the onset - because of varying earning capacity - it can only value lives based upon their income 
in the most discriminatory of methods.
If cost/benefit to society is the measure, all elderly would be expendable, and all prisoners by virtue of the fact 
that none produce more benefit to society than they cost.
Application of disparate interpretations do not serve society well, and actually increase discrimination that most 
laws prohibit.
Without addressing the issue of the death penalty and the standard upon which it applies, or the wrongful death suits, 
and the standard upon which they apply to award damages, society has little basis to view human life within a logical and workable framework.
If people are in prison their whole lives, they offer no utility to society, and therefore, should be wholly expendable 
by the wrongful death standard already implemented.
Christopher K:

Against the death penalty: It tells the world what 
is deeply valued in the American Dream and Soul. At present we tell the world we 
choose murder to solve our most difficult problems. Our "culture of death" 
extends to the unborn, the terminally ill, the politically opposed and the to 
the criminal (the one individual who would dare, for any reason, act like our 
government does today). When will our leadership take control and say "The value 
of each life is too great for us to deliberately waste it in an act of terror as 
shameful as the act for which one is being punished".
Susannah K:

As I was researching for a paper I am writing on whether or not the
death penalty is an effective deterrent for crime, I came across your
webpage on  I must confess, your site was
exactly what I had been searching for, but I found an error.  You
state that DNA testing almost 100% of the time rules out room for
error, but I think you should also add the following points.  Often
times, wrong DNA samples are picked up.  It is not necessarily the
case that all the DNA samples at a crime scene are that of the
murderer.  While taking a course on Genetics this summer at the John's
Hopkins CTY program, we learned about the myriad errors that forensic
investigators often make, but lazy prosecutors overlook in their
attempt to prosecute as quickly as possible.  I hope that you will
look into this because it is a common misunderstanding that DNA
matching is the end all of an investigation, but this is far from
Daniel P:

In response to the reader about DNA statistics.  The one percent that your article
has mentioned is a very large number.  DNA is taking away the chances of convicting
an innocent person.  There is no such thing, as a "perfect crime."  And today's 
technologies in crime fighting have come along ways, even since the infamous 
Simpson trial, there has been improvements in the way evidence is gathered for 
DNA investigations. 
Yes I'm a supporter of the death penalty.  It would solve a lot of problems, including 
over population in our prison systems.


I read your wonderful website and thought you may be interested in this 
story. After I read this book Journey Toward Justice. I am now my own Journey 
Toward Justice. I  feel the more people know about these issues maybe some 
things will change. At one time I wrote this about the book I read. Who And 
Where Is Dennis Fritz, You  may say after reading John Grisham's Wonderful Book 
"The Innocent man", Grisham's First non-fiction book. The Other Innocent Man 
hardly mentioned in "The Innocent Man" has his own compelling and fascinating 
story to tell in "Journey Toward Justice". John Grisham endorsed Dennis Fritz's 
Book on the Front Cover. Dennis Fritz wrote his Book Published by Seven Locks 
Press, to bring awareness about False Convictions, and The Death Penalty. 
"Journey Toward Justice" is a testimony to the Triumph of the Human Spirit and 
is a Stunning and Shocking Memoir. Dennis Fritz was wrongfully convicted of 
murder after a swift trail. The only thing that saved him from the Death Penalty 
was a lone vote from a juror. "The Innocent Man" by John Grisham is all about 
Ronnie Williamson, Dennis Fritz's was his co-defendant. Ronnie Williamson was 
sentenced to the Death Penalty. Both were exonerated after spending 12 years in 
prison. Both Freed by a simple DNA test, The real killer was one of the 
Prosecution's Key Witness. John Grisham's "The Innocent Man" tells half the 
story. Dennis Fritz's Story needs to be heard. Read about how he wrote hundreds 
of letters and appellate briefs in his own defense and immersed himself in an 
intense study of law. He was a school teacher and a ordinary man from Ada 
Oklahoma, whose wife was brutally murdered in 1975. On May 8, 1987 while raising 
his young daughter alone, he was put under arrest and on his way to jail on 
charges of rape and murder. Since then, it has been a long hard road filled with 
twist and turns. Dennis Fritz is now on his "Journey Toward Justice". He never 
blamed the Lord and solely relied on his faith in God to make it through. He 
waited for God's time and never gave up.

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