Monday, December 15, 2014

Pennsylvania death penalty costs millions, no executions

Pennsylvania's death penalty has cost taxpayers more than $350 million for a dysfunctional system that has sentenced hundreds but hasn't executed anyone in 15 years, reports the Reading Eagle. State legislators have called for an detailed report on Pennsylvania's death penalty, but the long-overdue report is at least several months away from being issued. There has been no reckoning of the system's massive financial or psychological cost, including the agony of justice-seeking family members and the pain of families waiting for condemned relatives to be executed
There are 185 condemned inmates, making Pennsylvania's death row the nation's fifth largest. The death penalty is likely to get more scrutiny as prosecutors move ahead with a capital case against Eric Frein, accused of ambushing and murdering a state trooper this year. The newspaper's cost estimate is likely a conservative number. The estimate, which relies on a 2008 Maryland study by the Urban Institute, was calculated using the Pennsylvania inmates now on death row. It does not account for unsuccessful death penalty cases tried by prosecutors, nor does it include death row inmates whose sentences were overturned on appeal. The 2008 study found that Maryland spent an average of $1.9 million more on cases that led to death sentences than on cases where the death penalty could have been sought but was not.
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