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Capital Losses - The Price of the Death Penalty for New York State

NCJ Number
Date Published
33 pages
This critique of the New York State legislative proposal to reinstate the death penalty assesses the cost data associated with its implementation and places special emphasis on implications for the publicly supported defense representation for the poor.
The text analyzes the nature of defense services under the proposed death penalty bill and concludes that its supporters recognize the inadequacies of the current system for providing public defense services and intend to respond to those inadequacies by supplying 'unlimited funds' to the defense in capital cases. The report then details the price of that response and other costs of capital litigation through 10 State and Federal judicial levels of constitutional, statutory, and discretionary review. It is estimated that the cost of the first three stages (guilt and penalty phases of trial, State court review of the death sentence, writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court) would total no less than $1,828,100. Furthermore, by the time the first 40 New York death cases have been tried, over $59 million will have been expended, and by the time the first 21 New York death cases have reached the Supreme Court, New York State and its counties will have expended the entire allocation for the statewide Major Offense Prosecution Program. Given the continued escalation of criminal justice costs, by 2000 A.D., the death penalty is predicted to cost $1,075,000,000 annually. The report also offers a note on the comparative cost of the correctional process. Footnotes and tabular data are given.