State officials studying capital punishment in Tennessee can’t figure out the overall cost of the death penalty because there’s no comprehensive system for tracking costs, reports the Associated Press. A study of capital punishment cases in Tennessee since 1977 shows that nearly a quarter have files missing. These files are used by higher courts to judge the fairness and proportionality of how the death penalty is applied in first-degree murder cases.
Former state Attorney General Paul Summers does not believe that knowing the cost of executions would have much impact on public support of the death penalty. “I think people feel the death penalty is retributive and worth whatever it costs,” Summers said. One of the most comprehensive studies of the state’s death penalty system came from the Tennessee Justice Project, an organization that advocates reforms to the criminal justice system, but says it has no position on capital punishment.