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Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

Today's Hot Topic (2/25): No more death penalty to save the economy?

Do you think abolishing the death penalty will help save the economy? 

Should money be brought up as an argument for this?

Lawmakers Cite Economic Crisis in Effort to Ban Death Penalty

A number of state legislators are citing the country's economic woes as a reason to overturn capital punishment laws.

A Kansas jury last week recommended that the man who raped and killed 19-year-old Jodi Sanderholm two years ago be put to death -- a verdict that could be the state's last death sentence because of the country's dire economic straits.

Kansas Republican state Sen. Carolyn McGinn, who has proposed a bill to overturn the death penalty in the state, is one of a growing number of legislators nationwide who are citing drained resources and severe budget cuts as a reason to ban capital punishment.

"We're looking at any way we can to save money moving forward in the state of Kansas," McGinn told FOXNews.com. "This will save significant money -- money that could be used toward education programs and toward community corrections programs," she said.

Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, Nebraska and New Mexico are among those states actively considering abolishing executions as a way to cut costs. But in other states, including Texas and California, the debate has gained little ground.

The proposal has infuriated many who say the death penalty cannot be decided in dollars and cents.

"You cannot put a price on justice," said Kansas Attorney General Stephen Six. "Our death penalty statute is a useful tool for law enforcement as they bring justice to families devastated by heinous and violent murder."

Another person who strongly opposes abolishing the death penalty is Jodi Sanderholm's mother, Cindy, who told FOXNews.com that she wants her daughter's murderer to die.

"We saw the brutality that he did to our daughter, and he truthfully deserved it. He could have changed his mind in those five hours he tortured her, and he didn't. How can they waive that?"

In the case of murderer Justin Thurber, they almost certainly won't. He will face execution by lethal injection if the judge formally sentences him to die on March 20. But Thurber could turn out to be the last killer to face the ultimate punishment in Kansas. McGinn's measure -- if passed -- will take effect on July 1.

A 1992 estimate in Texas -- which has had more executions than any other state since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976 -- showed that death row cases cost taxpayers $2.3 million per case, compared to $750,000 for life sentence cases.

McGinn cited a 2003 state audit that reported the median cost for death penalty cases in Kansas was $1.26 million through execution, while non-death penalty cases cost $740,000 through the end of a prisoner's incarceration.

McGinn said legal fees related to death row cases make up a large expense for states, which often have to pay the costs of both the prosecution and defense in capital punishment trials.

"When you add all those costs up and weigh it against that individual being isolated and locked up for the rest of his or her life, it's a much greater cost," said McGinn. She said capital murder trials, on average, cost 16 times more than non-death penalty cases. The appeals cost 21 times more, she said.

But the cost factor is just one reason McGinn opposes the death penalty. She calls it a flawed system that is anything but just. Critics say the death penalty entraps minorities and the poor who often cannot afford competent legal representation.

"Approximately 40 percent of the folks on death row are African-Americans -- and they represent only 12.2 percent of our entire population," McGinn said.

The effort to abolish the death penalty has been met with great resistance, particularly by state attorneys general and victims' rights groups. The Kansas attorney general said the 2003 state study relied on data reported by "interested parties -- not actual costs -- and projections that are acknowledged to be speculative."

"Since the death penalty was reinstated in Kansas, no reliable study has been conducted to compare the actual costs of death penalty cases versus cases with life sentences. The study being used by proponents states very clearly that '[i]t is not a study of whether it is more costly for Kansas to have the death penalty than not to have it,'" Six told FOXNews.com.

But McGinn refuted that charge, saying the report included data from law enforcement officials, the American Bar Association and the state attorney general's office.

Attorney General Six and others opposed to the measure say capital punishment is a useful tool for prosecutors and a deterrent for criminals looking to commit heinous acts.

"It is by exacting the highest penalty for these individuals -- whose brutal, vicious acts have taken a life and whose conduct demonstrate they have forfeited their right to live among us -- that we recognize the value of the life taken," Six wrote on his Web site.

McGinn countered that the death penalty may bring no more closure to families than life sentences without the chance for parole.

"This measure is not to diminish the pain and suffering these families have gone through," McGinn said.

"I don't stand in her shoes," McGinn said of Sanderholm's mother, "but nobody seems to talk about the pain that these families go through because of the countless appeals that these murderers are given because they're on death row."

by on Feb. 25, 2009 at 6:33 AM
Replies (41-48):
athenax3
by on Feb. 26, 2009 at 3:58 PM


Quoting mamaoftwins9197:

Stop locking up non-violent first time offenders too and that will stop part of the overcrowding problem as well.

Quoting TJCmom:

Hell no.  Our prisons are overcrowded as it is.  Take away the cable tv and the gyms in the prisons and that might save some money.

 

On this I totally agree. non violent first time offenders for minor violations should have alternative to prison time.


mamaoftwins9197
by Member on Feb. 26, 2009 at 4:01 PM

I completely agree with you and couldn't have said it better myself.

Quoting hsteele:

I will still never understand how we can punish murderers with state approved murder. How can it be ok for our government to kill but not others. Sounds hypocritical to me. The death penalty does not deter murderers. THat is really ignorant reasoning. Obviously since murder is still a huge issue in this country. We need to cut special frilly options in our prison system like television and that bs for prisoners, make them buy their own supplies like one prison warden is suggesting (like toilet paper) and make a prison a place criminals don't want to go. That might deter crime. A murderer has mental issues, at least murderers whose crimes warrent state sanctioned murder. You cannot deter their crimes by telling them they will die if they kill. They know they will, but they still do.



mamaoftwins9197
by Member on Feb. 26, 2009 at 4:05 PM

I'm studying to be a juvenile probation officer, hopefully I'll be able to help a couple before they get to jail...yes, I have high hopes.

Quoting athenax3:

 

Quoting mamaoftwins9197:

Stop locking up non-violent first time offenders too and that will stop part of the overcrowding problem as well.

Quoting TJCmom:

Hell no.  Our prisons are overcrowded as it is.  Take away the cable tv and the gyms in the prisons and that might save some money.

 

On this I totally agree. non violent first time offenders for minor violations should have alternative to prison time.



athenax3
by on Feb. 26, 2009 at 4:13 PM


Quoting mamaoftwins9197:

I'm studying to be a juvenile probation officer, hopefully I'll be able to help a couple before they get to jail...yes, I have high hopes.

Quoting athenax3:

 

Quoting mamaoftwins9197:

Stop locking up non-violent first time offenders too and that will stop part of the overcrowding problem as well.

Quoting TJCmom:

Hell no.  Our prisons are overcrowded as it is.  Take away the cable tv and the gyms in the prisons and that might save some money.

 

On this I totally agree. non violent first time offenders for minor violations should have alternative to prison time.

 

I wish you the best- for some crime doesn't need to be a way of life and sending them to prison is almost a sure fire way to ensure that they come out the worse for it. I'm not heartless and only refer to the death penalty for the most heinous unconscionable perpetrators. For many relatively minor offenders guidance and direction could make a massive difference.


Mommy_of_Riley
by Jes on Feb. 26, 2009 at 4:15 PM


Quoting mamaoftwins9197:

I'm studying to be a juvenile probation officer, hopefully I'll be able to help a couple before they get to jail...yes, I have high hopes.


Nothing wrong with high hopes!  I just graduated last year and plan on being a teacher at correctional facilities.  I want to help the kids in the centers (the kids who got caught with drugs or drinking underage, defacing property, etc.  Not murderers and such).  The career I'm looking into right now is that you are a Correctional Officer but I will have certain hours during the day that I take the kids and we have a "classroom" where they can learn what they would be learning in school...

This way maybe when they get out after their time they won't be behind their classmates and they will have an education...  Maybe they won't get in trouble again...  :)  I have high hopes too


   Wife of a Marine - Mommy to a Little Prince
            
& Expecting a Princess in May!                

canthaveboys1
by on Feb. 26, 2009 at 4:19 PM

 

I got this in email and felt the need to share it. enjoy!

 

You may remember Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona , who painted the jail cells pink and made the inmates wear pink prison garb.  Well...

                

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHERIFF JOE IS AT IT AGAIN!  And there's MUCH more to know about him!

 

Maricopa County was spending approximately $18 million a year on stray animals, like cats and dogs. Sheriff Joe offered to take the department over, and the County Supervisors said okay.

 

The animal shelters are now all staffed and operated by prisoners.  They feed and care for the strays.  Every animal in his care is taken out and walked twice daily.  He now has prisoners who are experts in animal nutrition and behavior. They give great classes for anyone who'd like to adopt an animal.  He has literally taken stray dogs off the street, given them to the care of prisoners, and had them place in dog shows.

 

The best part?  His budget for the entire department is now under $3 million. Teresa and I adopted a Weimaraner from a Maricopa County shelter two years ago.  He was neutered, and current on all shots, in great health, and even had a microchip inserted the day we got him.  Cost us $78.

 

The prisoners get the benefit of about 28¢ an hour for working, but most would work for free, just to be out of their cells for the day.  Most of his budget is for utilities, building maintenance, etc. He pays the prisoners out of the fees collected for adopted animals.

 

I have long wondered when the rest of the country would take a look at the way he runs the jail system, and copy some of his ideas.  He has a huge farm, donated to the county years ago, where inmates can work, and they grow most of their own fresh vegetables and food, doing all the work and harvesting by hand.

 

He has a pretty good sized hog farm, which provides meat, and fertilizer. It fertilizes the Christmas tree nursery, where prisoners work, and you can buy a living Christmas tree for $6 – $8 for the holidays and plant it later.  We have six trees in our yard from the Prison.

 

He was reelected last year with 83% of the vote.  Now he's in trouble with the ACLU again.  He painted all his buses and vehicles with a mural, that has a special hotline phone number painted on it, where you can call and report suspected illegal aliens.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement wasn't doing enough in his eyes, so he had 40 deputies trained specifically for enforcing immigration laws, started up his hotline, and bought 4 new buses just for hauling folks back to the border.  He's a “Git-er-done” kind of Sheriff.

 

To those of you not familiar with Joe Arpaio, he is the Maricopa County Arizona  tough-guy Sheriff who created the tent city jail and long ago started making his prisoners wear pink and eat bologna sandwiches.  He keeps getting elected over and over.  Here are some more reasons why:

·        He has jail meals down to 40¢ a serving and charges the inmates for them.

·        He stopped smoking and porno magazines in the jails … took away their weights … and cut off all but 'G' movies.

·        He started chain gangs so the inmates could do free work on county and city projects.  Then he started chain gangs for women, so he wouldn't get sued for discrimination.

·        He took away cable TV until he found out there was a federal court order that required cable TV for jails, so he hooked up the cable again but only let in the Disney channel and the weather channel.  When asked why the weather channel, he replied, “So they will know how hot it's gonna be while they are working on my chain gangs.”

·        He cut off coffee since it has zero nutritional value.

·        When the inmates complained, he told them, 'This isn't the Ritz/Carlton ... if you don't like it, don't come back.”

·        With temperatures being even hotter than usual in Phoenix (116 degrees just set a new record), the Associated Press reports: “About 2,000 inmates living in a barbed-wire-surrounded tent encampment at the Maricopa County jail have been given permission to strip down to their government-issued pink boxer shorts.

 

On Wednesday, hundreds of men wearing boxers were either curled up on their bunk beds or chatted in the tents, which reached 138 degrees inside the week before.  Many were also swathed in wet, pink towels as sweat collected on their chests and dripped down to their pink socks.  “It feels like we are in a furnace,” said James Zanzot, an inmate who has lived in the tents for 1 year. “It's inhumane.”

 

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is not one bit sympathetic.  He said Wednesday that he told all of the inmates, “It's 120 degrees in Iraq , and our soldiers are living in tents too, and they have to wear full battle gear, but they didn't commit any crimes—so shut your mouths!”

 

Way to go, Sheriff!

 

Maybe if all prisons were like this one, there would be a lot less crime and fewer repeat offenders.  Criminals should be punished for their crimes—not live in luxury until it's time for their parole, only to go out and commit another crime, so they can get back in to live on taxpayers’ money and enjoy things taxpayers can't afford to have for themselves.

 

If you agree with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, pass this on.  If not, just delete it.

 

 

Canthaveboys1
mamaoftwins9197
by Member on Feb. 26, 2009 at 4:26 PM

I actually want to work for the school system.  We have schools here specifically for juvenile offenders where they get to see their PO every day to help keep them on track.  That is my eventual goal.  I only have an associate's right now, so I can't really do much with that, but eventually...LOL.

Quoting Mommy_of_Riley:

 

Quoting mamaoftwins9197:

I'm studying to be a juvenile probation officer, hopefully I'll be able to help a couple before they get to jail...yes, I have high hopes.


Nothing wrong with high hopes!  I just graduated last year and plan on being a teacher at correctional facilities.  I want to help the kids in the centers (the kids who got caught with drugs or drinking underage, defacing property, etc.  Not murderers and such).  The career I'm looking into right now is that you are a Correctional Officer but I will have certain hours during the day that I take the kids and we have a "classroom" where they can learn what they would be learning in school...

This way maybe when they get out after their time they won't be behind their classmates and they will have an education...  Maybe they won't get in trouble again...  :)  I have high hopes too



Junebug926
by Bronze Member on Feb. 26, 2009 at 9:53 PM

If we took everyone off death row and kept them in prison the prisons would quickly over flow causing more inmates to be released early.

Quoting mamaoftwins9197:

How would this be compromising public safety?  They're not talking about letting murderers go free, they are talking about sentencing them to life in prison, without the possibilty of parole, versus killing them.

Quoting Junebug926:

This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard! Yes, let's take away from public safety to help the economy. Please. :(



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