Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Is The Death Penalty Worth It?

TRENTON, N.J. -- In the 23 years since New Jersey reinstated the death penalty, the law has cost taxpayers about $253 million and executed no one, according to a new study.

"Money For Nothing? The Financial Cost of New Jersey's Death Penalty" was released Monday by New Jersey Policy Perspective, a research group.

The report broke down the death penalty-related costs as follows:

_County prosecutors/state Attorney General's Office: $180 million;

_State Public Defender's Office: $60 million;

_State Department of Corrections: $6.8 million;

_Court Costs: $6.5 million.

That works out to $4.2 million for each death sentence imposed in New Jersey.

In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the 40 state death penalty statutes that existed at the time, ruling that giving juries complete discretion over sentencing conflicted with the Eighth Amendment ban on "cruel and unusual punishment."

New Jersey, which first adopted capital punishment in 1796, passed a new death penalty law in 1982 that conformed to the high court's mandates.

Since then, New Jersey jurors have returned death verdicts 60 times. Ten people are now on death row at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton. Most of the others have had their death sentences overturned and replaced with life in prison.

One died of natural causes and another was killed by a fellow death row inmate.