Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Life Sentences Are Really Too Expensive...

This week, over at Steal the Bandwagon, Jody and I were discussing the relative merits of executing convicted capital criminals versus actually locking them up for life. She made the statement, "the pricetag for those executions is more than just letting them stay in jail." A couple of points: 1) I'm not sure the raw data would support that statement; 2) Even if the raw data supports that statement as the legal system stands now, it probably wouldn't if we actually enforced the death penalty; 3) Not to mention that, supposing it does cost more to execute convicted capital criminals, it is worth it in terms of the potential deterrent effect as well as vindicating society's interest in protecting its citizens and obtaining justice for victims.

But in addition, it should be noted that the costs of life imprisonment cannot simply be measured in terms of food, clothing, the cost of cable TV and putting new felt on the prison pool tables from time to time...federal inmates account for a hefty percentage of all federal lawsuits filed...in fact, I have seen an estimate that 10% of all federal lawsuits are filed by disgruntled inmates. 46,000 suits were filed in 2000, and the reasons range from not liking the food to not liking the TV choices to believing that the guards are allowing space aliens access to the cells.

Nothing is accomplished by giving those who commit capital offenses life sentences, other than keeping the possibility alive that they will somehow get out so that they can commit their crime of choice again. Just the fact that that possibility exists makes the cost of life sentences too high.

"Stop The ACLU" Blogbursters

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