Death Penalty Economics
Debate Rounds (3)
Resolution: The death penalty costs less than life in prison.
death penalty: The punishment of execution, administered to someone legally convicted of a capital crime.
prison: A building in which people are legally held as a punishment for a crime they have committed or while awaiting trile
-No arguments in the first round
-No new points shall be introduced in the last round.
People eligible for the death penalty would be alternatively placed in a supermax or high security prison. Con has to agree to, or give reasonable evidence against this claim.
I accept and await your opening argument. :)
Thank you, con, for accepting. Please ignore the 3rd rule, I apologize for my mistake.
A death penalty trial, on average, costs about $1,000,000 more than a life in prison trial (1). The cost of trials for the death penalty depend on the state, so let's take Texas, as it has had the most people sentenced to death since 1976, 529 (2). An average death penalty case in Texas costs about $2.3 million (3), so a life in prison trile would cost about $1.3 million.
The average life sentence imprisons the inmate for 39 years (39 years in prison until they die) (4). Only 1 year in maximum security prison can cost up to $200,000 (5). That is $7,800,00 in total! Whereas a lethal injection only costs $86.08 (6).
For the death penalty, there is $2.3 million in court cases, plus $86.08 for the lethal injection fluid. So a total of $2,300,086.08. For life in prison, there is $1.3 million in court cases, plus $7.8 million in prison costs. This comes out with a total of $9,100,000. $9,100,000 is greater than $2,300,086.08.
The reasoning here is quite simple.
Quite simply, capital cases cost, on average, roughly $2 million more than non-capital cases.  (p. 541) This alone is nearly reason enough, as it is extremely expensive, moreso than non-capital cases, to get through the trials and jury with capital cases. My opponent agrees to this, but assumes his conclusion under the false pretense that punishment and execution comes directly after the conviction. This is entirely untrue. In fact, the average waiting time (read: where these prisons have to be kept in high security prison) between conviction and execution is 33 years on average, due to further dispute and exoneration contemplation.  Moreover, there are currently 3,002 individuals on death row, waiting.  Assuming my opponent's previous figures are correct, let's do some simple math to calculate the relative impact of the death penalty, economically, and compare those results with those of life in imprisonment.
With my revised numbers, which are sourced as well, the death penalty costs rather $2 million more than non-capital cases. We will, just for numerical purposes, assume a non-captial case costs $1,000,000. (The impact would be the same, so the base number isn't necessarily pertinent. The disparity between costs is what is actually significant, so that's what we'll use).
$1 million (base, non-captial case) + $2 million (the average disparity between court costs) = $3 million
Remember, there is a 16.5 year waiting period on death row, on average, before criminals are executed.
33 years (time on death row) multiplied by $200k (average price per year for an inmate in high-security prison) equates to $6,600,000
$3 million (our hypothetical cost for court cases in a capital case) + $6,600,000 (price of time in prison) = an estimate of $9,600,000
$9,600,000 > $9,100,000 (not including the actual cost of the execution)
 Sherod Thaxton, “Leveraging Death,” Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Vol. 103, No. 2, 2013
"In fact, the average waiting time (read: where these prisons have to be kept in high security prison) between conviction and execution is 33 years on average, due to further dispute and exoneration contemplation."
The average time on death row is not 33 years, the time Manuel Valle spent on death row, however, was 33 years. Instead, the average time spend on death row is 178 months (1). A prison cost of $200,000 is roughly $16,667 a month. That is $2,966,726 for all 178 months.
"Remember, there is a 16.5 year waiting period on death row, on average, before criminals are executed. 33 years (time on death row) multiplied by $200k (average price per year for an inmate in high-security prison) equates to $6,600,000"
If there is a 16.5 year waiting period on death row, why would the time on death row be 33 years? You are contradicting yourself.
The death row prison cost is $2,966,726 (see first rebuttal). Using your $3,000,000 death row trial figure, this adds up to $5,966,726. The cost of lethal injections are $86.08 (2). So altogether, the death penalty costs about $5,966,812.08.
$5,966,812.08 < $9,100,000
Death penalty < Life in prison
After further research, I have found more evidence indicating that a death penalty is much more expensive than originally asserted. While I did have some missteps and a few mistakes in my first argument, I'll clean it up here and attack my opponent's points.
In fact, the cost is much greater than double, or even triple the cost of capital case costs. Instead, more than a dozen states have found it costs 10 times as much.  There are other examples of other states haveing similar issues. "Since 1983, taxpayers in New Jersey have paid $253 million more for death penalty trials than they would have paid for trials not seeking execution — but the Garden State has yet to execute a single convict."  Reality shows that often people wait on the death row longer than 178 months, as the first person in New Jersey has obviously been there for nearly 35 years. Moreover, the execution itself is expensive. "The execution of a convicted criminal can cost the state a few thousand dollars."  In fact, studies and reports indicate my opponent's premise is inherently false. "The death penalty still costs an average of three times more than 40 years in prison at maximum security."  The ACLU explains "Simply housing prisoners on death row costs California tax payers an additional $90,000 per prisoner per year, above what it would cost to house them with the general prison population, which adds up to $59 million a year. The price tag for California’s new death row is $336 million. All of those costs would be avoided if the people on death row were sentenced to die in prison and moved to the general population."  Numerous studies confirm this theory, especially those conducted in areas where the death penalty is currently legal. In fact, North Carolina shares the same story. "[NC] would have spent almost $11 million less each year on criminal justice activities (including appeals and imprisonment) if the death penalty had been abolished." 
The importance of these findings, and others, are very significant. Rather than just random stat searches by my opponent and myself, these are actually studies conducted in areas of relevance, which are done professionally and particularly. Instead of getting the AVERAGE national costs of things, specific areas (wherein the death penalty is practices) are more accurate, relevant, and conclusive. This is why you prefer my side. I've cited thoroughly conducted studies that come to the same ultimate conclusion -- all things considered, the death penalty costs more than life imprisonment. Instead of deriving random, generalized sources that don't pinpoint the areas at hand, I've cited experts, clear-cut economics, and logical reasoning.
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