An economic study claims reinstating the death penalty would cost Nebraska $14.6 million annually.
Economist Ernie Goss says the extra spending comes in the form of defense costs, pre-trial costs, the length of time in court, extra incarceration costs, and the appeals process.
“The additional cost for a death penalty case is about $14.6 million and that’s opposed to life without parole,” Goss tells reporters during a news conference in Lincoln.
Goss conducted the study for the group, Retain A Just Nebraska, which has mounted a campaign to keep the death penalty off the books. Retain A Just Nebraska paid Goss and Associates $16,000 for the study.
Nebraska voters in November will decide whether to uphold LB 268, approved by the Unicameral in the 2015 legislative session, or to repeal it and reinstate capital punishment. The legislature repealed the death penalty, overriding a veto by Gov. Pete Ricketts.
A petition campaign to place the issue on the ballot began shortly afterward.
Goss says the results of his review surprised him.
“I expected there to be little difference, no statistical difference,” Goss says. “I came in, I supported the death penalty. Now, I am reconsidering my position on that given the evidence that individuals are not being prosecuted, executed, three in the last 41 years, and it’s $14.6 million.”
The costs stack up primarily through the expense of the appeals process and maintaining a separate death row for the 10 condemned inmates in Nebraska.
Goss acknowledges the cost of the death penalty is only one factor for voters to consider.
“If the economics is your major factor, then you should vote to retain LB 238 in November,” Goss says. “But, there are other factors. Economics is not everything, as much as I would like for it to be, it’s not.”
Click here for a link to the economic study.
AUDIO: Economist Ernie Goss discusses economic study of cost of death penalty. [11 min.]