Friday, February 24, 2012

Abolishing the Death Penalty in PA Could Save Millions

Common Please Court Judge Benjamin Lerner has recommended that Philadelphia spend an additional $340,00 on capital-case attorneys bringing the total to $540,000 per year. Meanwhile, states such as Illinois that have abolished the death penalty are saving $4.7 million per year since the death penalty was abolished. Based on the figures, which seems like a better option?

A recent study in Philadelphia by Judge Lerner concluded that the “compensation of court appointed capital defense lawyers in Philadelphia is grossly inadequate, both as to the dollar amount of compensation and as to the compensation schedule provided by the present fee system.”

As it is now, capital-defense attorneys in Philadelphia get paid less than any other county in the state. According to Judge Lerner, this low-pay system “unacceptably increases the risk of ineffective assistance of counsel in individual cases.” Because of this, Judge Lerner recommended a $340,000 increase to the $200,000 that was spent in 2010.

But wouldn’t it make more sense to save money yearly rather than spend more?

Illinois, who abolished the death penalty in March 2011, is saving $4.7 million yearly because of cutbacks made at the State Appellate Defender’s office.

While it is important that we make sure each defendant receives a fair trial with adequate defense, abolishing the death penalty in PA is undoubtedly the better option. Not only does it eliminate the risk of executing an innocent person, but it would save money that could be used elsewhere.

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