Friday, 14 December 2007

Consequences of possible death penalty abolition come into focus

Associated Press - December 12, 2007 4:15 PM ET

NEW YORK (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments next term in a momentous lethal injection case.

While it's widely expected that executions will resume after a ruling, the Kentucky case gives Americans a chance to contemplate what would change if they stopped for good.

Start with some modest consequences.

The Associated Press reports Florida citizens would no longer have the chance to earn $150 by serving as executioner.

Texas, by far the death-penalty leader, would save the $86 cost of drugs used in each lethal injection.

There would be weightier consequences as well.

States with many death-penalty cases would save millions of dollars now spent on legal costs in long-running appeals. Additional savings would result in some states which now spend far more per inmate for Death Row facilities than other maximum-security inmates.

The founder of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty -- David Atwood -- says "Texas would be a better place."

But the group Justice for All says the consequence would be more murders.

AP reports the biggest savings, by far, would come from reduced legal costs from drawn-out appeals.

Texas also has a big Death Row - 371 inmates.

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