death penalty news—-TEXAS

Feb. 27


Death penaltys high cost

Thanks to the tanked economy that is straining states budgets across the
country,a new push is underway to cut one high-dollar and controversial
program: Executions.

In Texas, the capitol of capital punishment, the push will likely

In eight states, lawmakers are considering bills to abolish executions to
save money. State Rep. Lon Burnham, D-Fort Worth, has filed an abolition
bill in Texas "on moral grounds," he said, not solely because of the

Supporters of the campaign make this point: The cost of administering the
death penalty includes not just the cost of high-security incarceration
and the execution, but also years and years of costly court appeals.

The execution itself is a relatively cheap process, compared to the
appeals. Prison officials have estimated the cost of keeping a condemned
prisoner on death row is about $48 a day.

Some stay on death row for more than a decade before their appeals run

While exact statistics on the costs of executions are elusive, because
each case is different in timing and court actions, death-penalty
opponents have argued the figure reaches into several million dollars per
case by the time the ultimate punishment is administered.

Even so, death penalty supporters say cost should not be the motivating
factor. It is the the crime, they say, for which the penalty is applied.

"Otherwise, why not release everyone back to the street that would be the
cheapest option," said Paul Walker, a crime victim and death-penalty
supporter. "Public safety can be expensive."

Nonetheless, death penalty opponents say they expect the abolition bills
in other states to be actively debated in coming months, with the high
cost as one factor in the considerations.

In Texas? Don't look for Burnham's bill to shoot through the Legislature
with approval.

(source: Mike Ward, Marshall News-Messenger)