21 May 2019 :
Report: Louisiana spends $15.6 million per year to maintain death penalty. Louisiana spent an average of at least $15.6 million annually to maintain its capital punishment policy between 2008 and 2017, despite only executing one person during that time. That’s according to a new report (“An Analysis of the Economic Cost of Maintaining A Capital Punishment System In The Pelican State”) critical of the death penalty by Calvin Johnson, retired chief judge of the Orleans Criminal District, and William Quigley, a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. “For this cost, the capital punishment system produces little results,” the authors say. “The greatest likelihood in every case is death in prison, despite the broad costs expended on the death penalty.” 96 % of potential capital cases result in a reduced charge, a non-capital trial or a plea, the report says. Of the cases that proceed to trial, 60 % result in sentences other than a death sentence, which means only 1.6 % of the potential capital cases result in a death sentence. And of the 1.6 percent of cases that result in a death sentence, 83 % are ultimately reversed with others resulting in a natural death before appeals are exhausted, the report says. The cost of maintaining Louisiana's death penalty system through 2037 — the soonest, the authors estimated, that a killer who commits his crime later this year could be put to death after exhausting all appeals — would cost state taxpayers another $281 million. The study, released Thursday, used budget figures from the state’s public defenders, prison system and the state Legislature’s budget office to calculate the costs. When including the cost of local prosecutors, judges or courthouse staff, the price tag is far higher, the authors said. There are 65 men and one woman currently sentenced to death in Louisiana, according to the study. And since 2004, Louisiana spent well over $200 million on death penalty prosecutions, appeals and housing condemned inmates on death row, the study said. During those 15 years, Louisiana executed just one prisoner, Gerald Bordelon, who eased his own path to the death chamber by voluntarily dropping his appeals. He was executed in 2010. Before that, the last execution was in 2002, and no one has been sentenced to death in Louisiana since 2016. Three innocent men have been freed from death row inmates over that same time period and a number of other death-row inmates had their sentences overturned by higher courts because of issues at trial. Six more inmates died of natural causes while awaiting execution, according to data included in the report. Sentencing murderers to life without parole would cost the state far less money than levying death sentences, the report concludes, a finding backed up by studies conducted in 18 other states.