Re: "Factor in cost of imprisonment" (letter, 1-4).
The writer states that "more than 20 years ago I was told that it cost at least $400,000 a year to keep one inmate locked up." He used this figure to support the death penalty as "cost effective."
The number I heard 20 years ago was $40,000, so I Googled "annual cost for prisoner" and the first result was the Vera Institute of Justice study in 2012 that found the aggregate cost of prisons in the 40 states that participated was $39 billion.
The annual average taxpayer cost in these states was $31,286 per inmate. Therefore, using the correct annual rate, the interest alone on the $1 million extra up-front cost to prosecute a death penalty case is more than the annual incarceration cost (assuming a 3.2 percent interest rate).
More importantly, there is no way to compensate for a wrongful execution. Since 1989, there have been 325 post-conviction DNA exonerations in the United States; 20 of these were for people on death row.
If one person is wrongfully executed in this state, the blood is on all of our hands.