Police Chiefs to Death Penalty: Drop Dead

The Death Penalty Information Center released a new study today on the high costs, and lack of real benefits, associated with capital punishment in the United States.  The report, called Smart on Crime:  Reconsidering the Death Penalty in a Time of Economic Crisis, also includes the results of a poll of 500 randomly selected U.S. police chiefs who by a more than 2 to 1 margin reject the idea that the death penalty is a deterrent (an assessment confirmed by criminologists),  and, also by a greater than 2 to 1 margin, believe that the death penalty is used as a tough-on-crime symbol by politicians. 

“Greater use of the death penalty” was listed as the best way to reduce violent crime by only 1% (that’s one percent) of the chiefs surveyed, and only 2% (3% in the South) believed that “insufficient use of the death penalty” interferes with effective law enforcement.

And use of the death penalty is declining anyway.  For almost a decade the numbers of death sentences and executions have continued to drop.  As Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, told CNN “…the death penalty is turning into an expensive form of life without parole.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Money for Nothing

The death penalty costs money – more money than the alternatives – and, as Wonkette notes “basically every state in the union is broke”.  This is why (or at least one of the reasons why) more states than ever before are having serious death penalty repeal debates.  In Kansas, a Republican Senator has filed an abolition bill, telling FoxNews.com: “This will save significant money — money that could be used toward education programs and toward community corrections programs.”  In Colorado, they don’t have enough money to solve cold cases, and a bill to pass along the savings from death penalty abolition to create a cold case unit has passed its first hurdle.  New Hampshire suspended jury trials for an entire month to save money, and they haven’t executed anyone since 1939 – so why do they still have the death penalty?

Of course, the death penalty is a fundamental human rights violation, so even if it were dirt cheap, it would still be wrong and deserving of total abolition.  But it’s not cheap at all … and we can’t afford it.