Homework Writing Help on Effect of Death Penalty on the Economy of a Society

Effect of Death Penalty on the Economy of a Society

Punishment is undeniably crucial to all those who have violated the laws of a society or country and who therefore deserve it. While almost all societies agree that such individuals ought to be punished, there is however, variation with regards to the method of punishment of choice that needs to be administered to such people. It is also important to note that largely, punishment tends to have a special and a general effect on offenders. In this case, it has a general effect on the community and a special effect on the person being punished.  A special effect can be achieved through probation or prison term while it has a general effect on the community by reduction of crime (University of Richmond Law Review para 2). Death penalty however still raises questions on its effect on the public. The subject matter has attracted heated debate since its reinstatement in 1977. While many support capital punishment, its effectiveness has over the years been questioned.

Prevention of crime is a government responsibility that every citizen should enjoy. In economics, it is a public good (Brux 21). Public goods and services are those needs that the private sector is not in a position to provide but can only be provided adequately by the government due to their unique characteristics (Brux 21). They include police, national defense, highway and bridge construction, public libraries, and crime prevention, among others. The police, criminal courts, and the prisons undertake crime prevention. Regional watch programs also support crime aversion.

The capital punishment is one among many sentences imposed by criminal courts to capital offenders. The British introduced the death penalty in America. However, in the early 1960’s according to the Death penalty information center (para. 1), the death penalty was challenged by the Supreme Court a being ‘cruel and unusual’ way of administering punishment and therefore rendered unconstitutional. However, in 1977 the retribution was reinstated. Interestingly, 65% of Americans favor the punishment according to a recent poll conducted nationwide (University of Richmond Law Review para 1). The percentage has declined from an 80% that supported ten years ago. It shows that support for the capital punishment is declining over the years. In the same recent poll, the percentage of death penalty support reduced to 50% when an alternative of life in prison without parole was presumed.

There has been conflicting findings on the impact of tough policies such as the death penalty on violent crimes by researchers (Brux 34). Its supporters argue that it serves as a retributory and deterrence to crime. A retributory in the sense that it is considered a way of allowing the society to punish the most monstrous offences. The deterred feature is supported in that a criminal is forever condemned to life behind bars until their execution and therefore the society remains at peace. Moreover, potential violent criminals are discouraged from committing crime out of fear of being executed. However, it has been found that states with the death penalty record higher murder rates as compared to states without the death penalty (Death penalty focus 2).

Economics of Death Penalty

Capital punishment is in itself an effort to the prevention of crime in a social and legal perspective, however its effect on the economic position of a society is assumed. Many are of the notion that a life in prison sentence is more expensive than the death penalty but research indicates otherwise. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, studies done in states that impose the death penalty reveals that a death penalty is much more expensive. In Washington for instance, it was found that a death penalty case costs $1 more than other cases (Death Penalty Information Center para 1). These cases are more expensive compared to others due to the trials taking longer, more work force required including lawyers and experts for consultation (Brux, 35). Though expensive, the death penalty supporters retain that abolishing the punishment is a lack of foresight as it is the greatest way of deterring crimes. Others are of the opinion that death penalty is not an effective way of deterring murder and therefore the cost of death penalty exceeds its benefits (Brux 35).

With the recovering economy status of the nation after a severe recession, the high costs associated with death penalty cases are unnecessary. This is because the Financial, legal and social resources needed by the society for effective crime prevention are being diverted to death penalty cases and yet there is no evidence that the rates of crime in the society are reducing (Dieter para 3). According to the Death Penalty Information Center (para. 3), the murder rates in the states that impose capital punishment exceed those that do not. Accordingly, one is inclined to question the effectiveness of the death penalty if it does not result in reduced crimes such as murder among the states that have sanctioned it. At the same time, it has emerged that such punishment as life imprisonment without any probability for parole can have a similar effect to that of capital punishment because the victim will forever remain behind bars.  

While capital crime continues to increase in states that impose death penalty, the cost associated with death penalty continues to rise. The crime itself being murder is the supply in our case. For instance if we could take Colorado, the supply increased from 3.1 to 3.4 despite tough policies of keeping the demand of crime low (Death Penalty Information Center para. 5). As a result, the cost associated with death penalty increased. The cost becomes the price the state has to incur for the whole process, which includes the prosecution fees, defense cost, court, police costs, personal restraint appeals, the post-conviction incarceration, and the jail costs. The local government carries the bigger part of the burden.

            Death penalty cases incur a cost of $ 1M more than a case, which the death penalty was not, sought which is approximately $3.07M and $2.01 respectively in Washington State (Sullivan, par 1). This becomes the price of imposing death penalty in the state. Crime rate in the state has been inconsistent with the year 2012 recording a high of 3.1 from a previous 2.4 in 2011 (Death penalty information center, fig 2). Murder rates in the year 2013 decreased to 2.3 percent.

Death penalties and executions have declined over the years. However, states continue to maintain and support the death penalty system with many death row inmates who are unlikely to be executed in the near future. The death penalty is a wasteful system with very few clear benefits. As indicated in the Washington case, death penalty is more expensive than all other sentences imposed by different states. Not only are the costs enormous but their also exist other flaws in the system including possibility of some death row convicts being innocent (University of Richmond Law Review, para 29). These are just but a few costs that the society incurs due to the death penalty policies.


All evidences on the viability of the death penalty prove that it is not justifiable to the society. Research and data evidence shows that the death penalty does not deter crime, though it serves as a retribution for capital punishment on capital offenders. Crime in states that impose the death penalty is in fact a higher level than those that do not. Moreover, the cost of each death penalty case exceeds the cost other punishments imposed by any state which has resulted to increasing concern in the states. With the economy of the country recovering from a severe recession, the states that impose death penalties ought to undertake a cost benefit analysis to determine whether the benefits exceed the costs. While there exist other methods of preventing crime, death penalty states seem unmoved by these findings. The retribution of death penalty is undisputable as there are types of crimes that can only be punishable through this capital punishment. However, its costs exceed its benefits and the states should therefore review their policies to reconsider whether maintaining the death penalty is wise rather than directing the funds to other programs that may improve the society’s well-being.

Works Cited

Brux, Jacqueline M. Economic Issues and Policy. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.

Death Penalty Information Center. Financial Facts about the Death Penalty. 2015. Web. 07 April 2015. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/costs-death-penalty 

Death Penalty Information Center. Murder Rates Nationally and by State. 2015. Web. 06 April 2015. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/murder-rates-nationally-and-state#MRord.

Dieter, Richard, C. What Politicians Don’t Say About the High Costs of the Death Penalty. (n. d.). Web. 06 April 2015. http://www.fnsa.org/v1n1/dieter1.html. 6 April 2015.

Sullivan, Jeniffer. Seeking Death Penalty Adds $1M to Prosecution Cost, Study says. Jan 7, 2015. Web. 06 April 2015. http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/seeking-death-penalty-adds-1m-to-prosecution-cost-study-says/?syndication=rss.

University of Richmond Law Review. The Legal, Political and Social Implications of the Death Penalty. May 2007. Web. 06 April 2015. http://lawreview.richmond.edu/the-legal-political-and-social-implications-of-the-death-penalty/