Many students are shocked when they learn how much it costs to adjudicate someone charged with a capital crime. How much is it? How much is it when the prosecution wins vs. when they lose?
Numerous studies have attempted to specify the costs of adjudicating capital cases and, as the General Accounting Office noted many years ago, research usually underestimates it. The latest study by the nonpartisan Urban Institute, entitled, "The Cost of the Death Penalty in Maryland" is probably no different but it does provide current data on Maryland's death penalty costs from 1978-99. The lifetime cost of sentencing someone to death averaged three million dollars, $1.7 millon of which is for adjudication costs and $1.3 millon for prison costs. This is nearly three times the cost of not selecting a capital eligible case for the death penalty. See the Urban Institutes abstract at http://www.urban.org/publications/411625.html.