Tennessee taxpayers spent more than $600,000 to keep mass murderer Paul Dennis Reid alive so they could execute him. They never got the chance because he died in November of pulmonary disease and pneumonia, The Tennessean reports. Since 2000, when Tennessee executions resumed after a 40-year hiatus, nine death row inmates have died of natural causes and another committed suicide. Six have been executed. These deaths raise questions about the efficiency and the economics of the state’s death penalty.
There is rare agreement among supporters and opponents of the death penalty that it costs too much. Death penalty supporters say such costs prove that the criminal justice system takes too long and allows too many legal appeals to mete out efficient justice. Opponents say the costs prove that the death penalty is a waste of money and that life sentences would save taxpayers millions with the same result — death in the criminal justice system. With 14 death row inmates 60 or older, hospital beds could be busier than the execution chamber. There have been no executions in the state since 2009.