Cost of executions

After reading Christen Wegner’s Nov. 18 opinion piece on the death penalty (“Death penalty the clear answer for snipers”), I decided to check her figures on the cost of executions compared to the cost of keeping inmates imprisoned.

She listed her source as www.deathpenaltyinfo.org. The actual page where she got her figures is www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/costs2.html.

The figures she cites are there, but she took them completely out of context. She wrote that “states spend approximately $200,000 to $300,000 per death penalty case.” The actual sentence she got these figures from reads: “Just prosecuting a capital crime can cost an average of $200,000 to $300,000, according to a conservative estimate by the Texas Office of Court Administration. Add indigent-defense lawyers, an almost-automatic appeal and a trial transcript, and death-penalty cases can easily cost many times that amount.”

Another insightful sentence from the site: “In Texas, a death penalty case costs an average of $2.3 million, about three times the cost of imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security level for 40 years.”

Another quote reads: “Enforcing the death penalty costs Florida $51 million a year above and beyond what it would cost to punish all first-degree murderers with life in prison without parole, according to estimates by the Palm Beach Post.”

Journalistic dishonesty like this has no place in serious discussions about the use of capital punishment. Since Wegner knowingly twisted the truth to support her cost argument, I have to wonder how evenhandedly she approached the others.

Benjamin Marzinski, alumnus