And that's just what's happening in various parts of the United States. The hard economics of death penalty cases is coming home to roost in cash-strapped states. They're coming to realize it's a losing proposition - for the state. From The New York Times:
When Gov. Martin O’Malley appeared before the Maryland Senate last week, he made an unconventional argument that is becoming increasingly popular in cash-strapped states: abolish the death penalty to cut costs.
Lawmakers in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and New Hampshire have made the same argument in recent months as they push bills seeking to repeal the death penalty, and experts say such bills have a good chance of passing in Maryland, Montana and New Mexico.
Capital cases are expensive because the trials tend to take longer, they typically require more lawyers and more costly expert witnesses, and they are far more likely to lead to multiple appeals.
In New Mexico, lawmakers who support the repeal bill have pointed out that despite the added expense, most defendants end up with life sentences anyway.
That has been true in Maryland. A 2008 study by the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan public policy group, found that in the 20 years after the state reinstated the death penalty in 1978, prosecutors sought the death penalty in 162 felony-homicide convictions, securing it in 56 cases, most of which were overturned; the rest of the convictions led to prison sentences.
Since 1978, five people have been executed in Maryland, and five inmates are on death row.
The paper reports that a lot of states are beginning to lose their appetite for jailing swarms of non-violent offenders too.