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The Cost of Executions

February 10th, 2009 by Mike Vasilinda

The man convicted of killing a 15-year-old Tampa girl 25 years ago is scheduled to be executed Wednesday evening. Florida averages just over 2 executions a year at a cost estimated to be 50 million dollars. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, the expense has some questioning whether the death penalty is still cost effective.

Hear it Here: The Cost of Executions

Wayne Tompkins has spent 25 years fighting his death sentence. Now on his 3rd death warrant, the convicted killer has been in court at least 2 dozen times, including three trips to the US Supreme Court. The Florida Catholic Conference says the death penalty is costing Florida 50 million dollars a year, mostly in legal and court costs.

“They have found that, again, it’s below 50 percent, those who support it once they’ve realized that life in prison without the possibility of parole is a possibility,” Shelia Hopkins with the Florida Catholic Conference said.

Last week the Florida Supreme Court heard nine cases. Eight of them involved the death penalty.

The state Supreme Court is estimated to spend 60 percent of its 10 million dollar budget on death cases and add to that the lawyers on both sides, all of which is paid for by taxpayers. As lobbyists walk the Capitol hallways looking for money, one suggests the 50 million would pay for 830 teachers.

“That translates, if you want to get down without the support personnel, probably to something in the neighborhood of about 30 to 32 elementary students and 5 honors students each,” Palm Beach schools lobbyist Vern Crawford said.

But the death penalty is an emotional issue. Senator Victor Crist calls the idea of ending the ultimate penalty “ridiculous”.

“The death penalty is not about the price tag, it’s about paying the ultimate price for the ultimate crime that is committed,” Crist said.

Florida has 391 people on Death Row.

The cost of housing an inmate is 72 dollars a day…or about 1.3 million for 50 years.

Read the Tompkins Procedural History here:tompkins-history

Posted in Criminal Justice, State Budget, State News | 3 Comments »

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