Impending Indiana Execution Renews Debate Over $1 Million Cost


As Indiana prepares to carry out its first execution in more than two years early Friday, the Indianapolis Star says the event has renewed a debate over whether taxpayers can afford capital punishment. Nowhere is the issue more pressing than in Marion County, the Star said, where the costs this year alone to prepare for three potential death penalty trials has reached $659,000 and counting, according to the Public Defender Agency. By the time appeals are exhausted and costs tallied, the death penalty price tag for one case alone can reach $1 million.

For example, Desmond Turner’s defense in the high-profile 2006 Hamilton Avenue slayings case has cost Marion County and the state nearly $850,000 — among the state’s most expensive — and all the costs are not in. “Every time a prosecutor elects to charge the death penalty,” said Larry Landis, executive director of the Indiana Public Defender Council, “there’s a giant sucking sound of $1 million going down the tube. . . . Some people just don’t accept that it costs more to kill them than to keep them in prison for the rest of their lives.”

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