This is the ABSTRACT of the report “The Cost of the Death Penalty in Maryland“:
Maryland reinstated the death penalty in 1978 as a sentencing option for individuals convicted of felony homicide. Since then, five inmates have been executed and five others are on death row awaiting execution. Much has been written about the morality of the death penalty, and many empirical studies have investigated whether the presence of such a statute deters homicides.
However there is limited rigorous empirical research on whether the death penalty increases or decreases the cost of prosecution and incarceration. To address this issue, we initiated a study to assess the death penalty’s costs to Maryland taxpayers. We study the lifetime costs of all homicides eligible to receive the death penalty where the homicide occurred between 1978 and 1999.
We found that an average capital-eligible case in which prosecutors did not seek the death penalty will cost Maryland taxpayers more than $1.1 million, including $870,000 in prison costs and $250,000 in costs of adjudication.
A capital-eligible case in which prosecutors unsuccessfully sought the death penalty will cost $1.8 million, $700,000 more than a comparable case in which the death penalty was not sought.
Prison costs are about $950,000, and the cost of adjudication is $850,000, more than three times higher than in cases which were not capitally prosecuted.
An average capital-eligible case resulting in a death sentence will cost approximately $3 million, $1.9 million more than a case where the death penalty was not sought. In these cases, prison costs total about $1.3 million while the remaining $1.7 million are associated with adjudication.
A great website for more information about the issue: The Death Penalty Information high school curriculum site