Nevada death penalty cases can cost up to twice as much as cases seeking a lesser punishment.
An audit that reviewed the costs of capital punishment found that, on average, death penalty cases cost the public between $1.03 million and $1.31 million. Cases in which capital punishment is not sought average $775,000. The audit looked at the price of trials, appeals and jail time for 28 Nevada cases.
Lawmakers could use the audit to reform death penalty laws in the 2015 legislature.
“We certainly hope that all legislators and all Nevadans pay attention to the results because it shows just how much we are paying to maintain a broken system,” said Nancy Hart, president of the Nevada Coalition Against the Death Penalty. “We think it’s a very ineffective penalty and should be replaced by life without the possibility of parole.”
Currently, 32 states still have the death penalty, while six states – New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, Illinois and New Mexico – have abolished the death penalty in the past seven years.
A 2008 report, from the California Commission for the Fair Administration of Justice, found that the California capital punishment system costs $137 million per year. If California abolished the death penalty, the system would cost just $11.5 million per year.
According to the Pew Research Center, 55 percent of Americans favor the death penalty for convicted murders; however, that number is down from 78 percent in 1996.
Nevada currently has 82 inmates on death row.