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Cost of the Death Penalty Trials Deterring Prosecutors

According to an article in today’s Amarillo Globe-News, “Death penalty pursuit: cost vs. certainty” (February 1, 2010), local prosecutors are weighing the cost of death penalty trials when deciding whether or not to seek a death sentence in capital murder cases. The exorbitant cost of pursuing the death penalty appears to be one of the main reasons that new death sentences have declined more than 60% in Texas in recent years. Cost also has been a key factor in the current legislative debate about repealing the death penalty in Kansas.

Here’s an excerpt from the Globe-News article:

More prosecutors are deciding not to seek the death penalty in cases where it’s an option, two local district attorneys said after two cases in which pursuing the ultimate punishment was an option.

“That’s been the trend for probably the last decade and probably will continue to be a trend,” Randall County Criminal District Attorney James Farren said.

Many prosecutors weigh the lack of certainty in securing a conviction against the high cost of litigation as reasons for not seeking the death penalty when available.

“The facts of the case are a tremendous factor in the decision on whether to pursue a death penalty or not,” said Randall Sims, 47th district attorney. “You need to have a dead-bang cinch guilt-innocence case and one that you’ll
prove very easily the person on trial is the person who did it.”

Read the full article:

Read another article on this topic from the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: