Saturday, March 07, 2009

Gee, it's finally realized the death penality costs more

I've been debating the premise of the death penalty for decades, online for at least seven years, with part of the argument aside from the human aspect that courts/juries/judges are not always right, that it actually costs more to go through the whole process to execute a prisoner than it does to institute a life in prison with no parole sentence.

So, when a friend sent me this link, To execute or not: A question of cost? it was no surprise to read that states are discovering what some of us have pointed out for years...

After decades of moral arguments reaching biblical proportions, after long, twisted journeys to the nation's highest court and back, the death penalty may be abandoned by several states for a reason having nothing to do with right or wrong:


Turns out, it is cheaper to imprison killers for life than to execute them, according to a series of recent surveys. Tens of millions of dollars cheaper, politicians are learning, during a tumbling recession when nearly every state faces job cuts and massive deficits.

Yes! It's all about the money! So kids, let's not execute those prisoners to make sure we reduce our bottom line.

I realize some will suggest the solution is to shorten the process, that would save money, but it could also lead to scenarios where someone who was not guilty was executed. I've spent a bit of time over the years reading the last words of those who have been sentenced to death. It's always struck me that in those last moments of life when if those being killed believe in a God that would be the moment they would seek absolution for their crimes. Yet, many insist with the very last words they are allowed to say that they are innocent, some admit their guilt. A few selected from just one of the websites out there that list this information:

"I am innocent, innocent, innocent. Something very wrong is taking place tonight! May God bless you all. I am ready."

"It's a good day to die. I walked in here like a man and I am leaving here like a man. I had a good life. I have known the love of a good woman, my wife. I have a good family. Thank you for your love. To [my victims'] family, I am sorry for the pain I caused you. If my death gives you any peace, so be it."

"I'm sorry and I really mean that - it's not just words. My life is all I can give. I stole two lives and I know it was precious to ya'll. That's the story of my whole, that's what alcohol will do for you. Oh, Jesus, Lord God, take me home. Precious Lord, take me home, Lord. Take me home, yes, Sir."

This is also the case with a recent execution in Virgina where the last words of Edward N. Bell were:

"You definitely have the wrong person. The truth will come out one day."

While none of those statements is evidence, even when a confession has been given as to the murder of others, it does create a scenario where we should wonder...I've often said/written in these debates regarding the death penalty that when you discover you've wrongly convicted a person and they are in jail, you can set them free, that while you can't give them their life back during the time they spent in prison; that if they have been executed, what can you do? Dig them up and apologize? It's rather pointless...


Barga said...

The death penalty is good only if you already have life in prison, otherwise they have no reason not to kill the gaurds

J. Rowsey said...

I've always been pro-death penalty but am no longer strong in that conviction. Maybe it is better to keep these people alive and try to learn why they commit these heinous acts.

Lisa Renee said...

I've always been anti-death penalty, because of the realization that our justice system is so far from perfect.

It does only mean something if there is no chance of parole, that I agree with Barga. Jason I'd often believed that perhaps it should be up to the prisoner. There are some that have known and accepted their guilt that wanted to be executed as opposed to spending their life in prison. That actually might be the ideal solution, since those who really were innocent would tend to hope for the day they would be found innocent, those who did not want to die could spend their life in prison and those who felt death was preferable to prison, would all have their preference.

Lawrence Moore said...

The comments here remind me of the opening scenes of one of my favorite "guilty pleasure" movies, "Escape From New York." As character/prisoner "Snake" Pliskin is being led down the hallway toward his fate, a pleasant female voice (taped recording) is advising "all prisoners have the right to immediate termination" should they prefer that to spending the rest of their lives in prison, i.e. New York.

This always seemed most sensible to me.

Having never supported the death penalty, I'm glad to see this study surfacing now. Perhaps dollars will finally trump "morality" (and how ironic is that?) and we as a nation can go back to a deathless prison system.

Lisa Renee said...

Lawrence, nice choice of a movie...I agree with you. Have you ever watched the movie "The Exonerated"? If not, I recommend it all of you.

Lawrence Moore said...


No, I have not seen The Exonerated but I've just added it to my Netflix Queue. Of course, all I need now is the time to watch it. LOL! Thanks for the recommendation!

Lisa Renee said...

I'll be interested in your thoughts when you get a chance to watch it.