MD Debates How Much More A Death Penalty Case Costs


The cost associated with prosecuting a case in Maryland in which the death penalty is imposed is on average $1.9 million more than the cost of a similar case in which capital punishment is not sought, says the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Institute. The Washington Post reports that the conclusion was disputed by prosecutor Joseph Cassilly of Harford County, Md., who said that it was “so far off the mark as to be incomprehensible and useless” and that it contained “significant errors of math.” Cassilly acknowledged that there are additional costs associated with a death-penalty case but said, “We’re talking costs in the thousands of dollars, not in the millions of dollars.”

The clash occurred in the latest in a series of contentious hearings by the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment, which has been asked to present recommendations on the future of the death penalty to Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and state lawmakers by the end of the year. Cassilly suggested that commission members should not give economic studies much weight, saying, “Justice is not a cost-benefit analysis.”


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