Numbers to Hold Death Row Inmates are Staggering

ARKANSAS - You may not be able to put a price on  a persons life, but you can put a price on death row inmates.

Holding inmates on death row cost taxpayers thousands of dollars every year, but why?

It took a calculator and lot of numbers, but I looked into the cost of holding death row inmates versus the general population and the figures are startling.

Laurent Sacharoff is a U of A Associate Professor of Law. He said,  "Today on average, after a person is convicted and sentenced they can be on death row for decades."

Those decades add up to millions of dollars.

Sacharoff said, "It costs about a million dollars more when you consider the process from beginning to end to have a death sentence case rather than a case that is life without the possibility of parolee."

According  to the department of correction, the cost to hold a general population inmate is about 60-dollars per day.

The cost to hold an inmate on death row, $67 per day, but that doesn't include the additional costs.

"Most of the differences in the costs arise from the extraordinary costs of trial and appeal," Sacharoff added.

Then you have to take into account lawyers, and not just any lawyers, death qualified lawyers, all paid for with taxpayer money.

Sacharoff said, "There are experts, there are mitigation experts. If many of these cases involve defendants who are either mentally ill or have suffered abuse in their childhood."

These surrounding circumstances are what keep inmates on death row for long periods of time.

As of this morning,there were 33 inmates on death row.

That means Arkansas has spent just over $807,000 this past year to house those inmates.

Sacharoff said, "People who are sentenced to death like anybody else,  want to survive. So they and their lawyers are doing what any person would do.They are taking almost every angle that they can to survive."

The inmate who's been on death row the longest is Roger Coulter, he's been locked up since 1989.

To date $12,620,181 dollars has been spent to hold inmates on death row.

Whether you're for or against the death penalty, the cost of life and death doesn't come cheap.

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