Need That Money

The Hidden Costs of the Death Penalty: A Comprehensive Analysis

The implementation of capital punishment has been a long-debated topic in the United States. Proponents argue that the death penalty serves as a deterrent for potential criminals, while opponents suggest that it is morally indefensible and ineffective in reducing crime rates.

However, two important aspects of the death penalty that are often overlooked are the costs associated with both execution and imprisonment. In this article, we will explore the botched execution in Oklahoma and the costs of the death penalty.

Oklahoma’s Botched Execution

On April 29, 2014, Clayton Lockett was scheduled to be executed via a three-drug lethal injection cocktail. However, the execution did not go as planned.

An intravenous line was improperly placed, which caused several of the drugs used in the cocktail to leak into Lockett’s surrounding tissues, leading to a prolonged and painful death. This process lasted approximately 43 minutes, and Lockett ultimately died of a heart attack.

The reason behind Oklahoma’s use of the new cocktail was due to a shortage of sodium thiopental, which had previously been a standard in lethal injection cocktails. Many pharmaceutical companies refused to supply the drug, leading to less regulated pharmacies attempting to produce the drug themselves.

These “jerry-rigged” drugs were then used in executions. The use of non-regulated drugs has sparked financial and ethical concerns.

The cost of executions has continually increased over the years, with Seattle University finding that New York City taxpayers spent $167 million between 2010 and 2017 on death penalty cases. Additionally, using less regulated pharmacies to produce drugs for lethal injections can lead to severe complications, as evidenced by Lockett’s execution.

Cost of Prison vs. Execution

In addition to the ethical concerns surrounding the death penalty, the financial costs associated with it have become a prominent issue.

A study done by the Death Penalty Information Center in 2018 found that the national average cost per death penalty case is $1.26 million, while non-death penalty cases cost an average of $740,000. One of the major expenses associated with capital punishment is the cost of defending these cases.

States such as Kansas and Idaho have spent millions of dollars defending capital punishment cases. However, abolitionists argue that ending the death penalty could save state governments millions of dollars each year.

Another significant expense for states is the cost of keeping inmates in prison. The cost of feeding, housing, and guarding inmates is staggering.

In California, it costs approximately $81,000 per year to house just one inmate. Rather than spending money on keeping inmates in prison, abolishing the death penalty and reallocating those funds could effectively help prevent crime.


While the issue of the death penalty is multifaceted, a critical aspect to remember is the financial and ethical concerns associated with it. The botched execution of Clayton Lockett highlights the dangers of using new and experimental drugs in lethal injections.

Outside of the execution chamber, lawyers on both sides of the death penalty debate have spent millions of dollars defending and prosecuting capital punishment cases. Lastly, the rising cost of keeping inmates housed and fed in prisons highlights the potential benefits of reallocating funds to more effective crime prevention methods.

Overall, understanding the financial and ethical implications of the death penalty can help us make more informed decisions regarding its use. Proper discussion of these issues can help determine if the cost of the death penalty is worth the potential benefits.

The use of capital punishment in the United States has been fraught with debate and controversy for years. As with any complex issue, the topic of the death penalty has both pros and cons that merit consideration.

In this article, we will examine the arguments for and against capital punishment, as well as the ethical and moral dilemmas surrounding it.

Arguments in Favor of the Death Penalty

Many supporters of capital punishment argue that it is a deterrent for potential criminals. The argument is that the fear of death will serve as a powerful force for keeping people from committing heinous crimes.

Supporters further argue that society has a right to protect itself from dangerous criminals, and that the death penalty is a just way of achieving this goal. Additionally, some advocates for the death penalty argue that it saves taxpayer dollars because the room-and-board costs of housing a prisoner for life are eliminated.

Arguments Against the Death Penalty

Opponents of the death penalty argue that there is no evidence that it is an effective deterrent. In fact, many studies suggest that states without the death penalty have lower murder rates than states that use it.

Additionally, opponents argue that the cost of defending death penalty cases is significant, and that reallocating funds to crime prevention methods such as education and community support would be more effective in preventing crime. Another argument frequently cited by opponents of the death penalty relates to the moral and ethical issues associated with it.

Many people argue that the taking of a human life is never morally acceptable, even in cases where the individual has committed heinous crimes. Some proponents argue that lethal injections and other means of execution are inhumane and violate human rights.

Critics of the death penalty also point to the fact that the application of the death penalty tends to be inconsistent, with many claiming that it is applied more frequently to people of color and those in low socioeconomic status.

Ethical and Moral Dilemmas Surrounding the Death Penalty

The issue of the morality of executions is a complex and multifaceted issue. On one hand, the idea of taking another’s life as an act of punishment raises questions about how a society values human life.

Ethical questions also arise regarding how humane executions are performed. Lethal injection, for example, has been under scrutiny in recent years due to legal battles over the ingredients of the drugs used in the process.

Some have argued that these drugs are not reliable and may lead to a painful and prolonged execution. Furthermore, the issue of prison reform cannot be overlooked in discussions regarding the death penalty.

While advocates for the death penalty often cite the elimination of room-and-board fees as a financial benefit, opponents argue that this is emblematic of a larger problem: the cost of keeping prisoners locked up. Rather than continuing to rely on the prison system as the sole means of punishment, those opposed to the death penalty argue for prison reform that seeks to address the root causes of criminal behavior and recidivism.


The use of the death penalty has long been a heated topic of debate in the United States. Arguments in favor of the death penalty often center around deterrence and protection of society, while opponents cite the human and financial costs of the death penalty.

Ethical and moral questions regarding the conduct of executions and the reform of the prison system also contribute to the broader conversation surrounding capital punishment. Understanding both sides of the issue and the complex issues it raises can help us make more informed decisions about the use of the death penalty.

The death penalty is a complex issue in the United States that has been a subject of discussion for years. While proponents argue that it serves as a deterrent and saves taxpayers money for room-and-board, opponents argue that it is costly, inhumane and violates human rights, and fails to deter crime.

Ethical and moral dilemmas arise from the execution process, and many point out the need for change in prison reform. Informed conversations about the death penalty’s pros and cons and its implications on society are essential to make informed decisions about it.

The takeaway point from the article is the need to recognize that this issue’s multifaceted nature requires a nuanced approach and a more significant reflection on the most effective and humane ways to deal with crime.

Popular Posts