As of this posting, 36 of these United States (including the US Government and the US Military) allow the death penalty as a suitable punishment for the most egregious of crimes. I’ll also note that, at the time of this posting, I was unable to find reliable statistics as to the average cost of keeping a prisoner for life v. the average cost of killing a prisoner. However, the general consensus seems to be that, it costs more to put someone to death than it does to house them for life.
In any event, this post has nothing to do with the moral or legal discussion surrounding the death penalty.
Instead, there’s a financial conversation to be had surrounding the death penalty.
As each state in our glorious union has the right to decide whether or not they want to offer the death penalty as a suitable punishment for heinous crimes, they then, presumably, have the right to determine whether or not it is a wasteful expense given these tough economic times.
A number of states at present are considering repealing the death penalty, not because they view it as a cruel means to an end or as a savage remnant of Hammurabi, but because it costs too much to fulfill the punishment.
This can raise myriad questions:
Can we put a price on justice?
What about victims’ rights?
Why does it actually cost so much to kill someone?
Have too many people seen, “The Life of David Gale?”
Are there other means of cutting a budget without cutting justice?
If ever there were a wake up call that our economy were in trouble, it’s when we start legitimately looking at options for fixing it that involve saving the life of those we deem irredeemable.
Then there is another means by which citizens are promoting we battle the depression: legalizing and harvesting marijuana.
Now, this is an argument I had with my 9th grade health teacher Mr. Millevoi. Not advocating the use of marijuana, the simple commoditization of it is something that states are looking into. Should we legalize marijuana, there’ll be a legal and fiscal domino effect:
Marijuana is legalized ? Government obtains control in the regulation of marijuana (much as they do for tobacco and alcohol and firearms) ? Government run facilities hire workers to grow the marijuana (this means job production) ? Government is able to regulate the sale of marijuana (age of use, quantities, uses) ? Government is able to TAX sale of marijuana (thus earning money)
I’m not well enough versed in both sides of the argument to know what’s the correct course of action is, and I (along with AMP3) don’t advocate the use of illicit drugs. But, from what I do know, there is a lot of money to be made in the legal production and controlled distribution of marijuana.
The only idea that the states don’t really seem to be toying with is <gasp> cutting back on spending, re-evaluating their budgets, figuring out what is actually necessary, and then only purchasing those things.
I look at Long Island where I grew up. We have the LIE (sometimes known as the world’s longest driveway). The LIE, for anyone that’s ever been on it, or knows someone that’s been on it, or heard a comedian talk about being on it, is constantly under construction.
About every seven years, the same patch that was completed seven years ago gets ripped up and repaved.
Now, I’ve been told that it’s because of the wear and tear that gets done to the road, but some more diabolical minds seems to think it’s a way of perpetually keeping jobs on the market. If we fixed everything that needed construction work, what would happen to the people whose jobs it is to fix things? What about the suppliers that give the materials to the guys that fix things? Up the ladder we go, and at every rung, there is someone with something to gain from decrepit roads.
But why not give it a shot? Why not fix something well and see if we can allot the other monies elsewhere? Say, to our schools? To health care facilities? To any place else that might benefit from an injection of funds?
With the state that our nation’s in, I can understand looking to extremes in order to make money, but why not look towards realistic options first? Why do we always jump to the sensationalist option, the one that’ll ruffle the most feathers or cause the most controversy in its implementation?
The savvy publicist in me wants to say that it could be a misdirection on the part of the Government; have us rally over here in order to keep us from noticing what’s going on over there.
The question then becomes, what are they distracting us from?
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