Las Vegas Sun

August 28, 2014

Currently: 85° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Study lays out costs associated with death penalty in Nevada

The ACLU of Nevada recently highlighted a study conducted by a UNLV professor who found that defending the death penalty in Clark County costs at least $170,000 more than defending cases where life in prison is sought.

Terance Miethe, of UNLV's department of criminal justice, began the study in January and determined that the 80 pending capital murder cases in Clark County will cost approximately $20 million, according to the report.

Miethe's research estimates that public defense attorneys have spent double the time, about 2,300 hours, on capital murder cases as opposed to non-capital murder cases, the report says.

According to the study, 35 cases resulting in the death sentence between 2009 and 2011 took, on average, more than three years to complete. The study concluded that life with parole and life without parole cases took 2 to 2 1/2 years, respectively.

In a Friday media release, the ACLU called for further study on the issue. The group plans to advocate for a moratorium on the state's death penalty during the 2013 Legislature.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 5 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. Wow, the American Criminal Liberties Union finds it is much more "expensive" to execute killers than it is to warehouse them! Wow! Could it be because the American Criminal Liberties Union has put as many roadblocks in the way for speedy executions as possible? As for public defense attorneys. It's in their best interest to prolong the cases they are assigned to so as to ensure they keep the tax dollars rolling into their pockets. Keep in mind, if they were any good in the first palce, they would have hung their shingles out in the public areana, chased ambulances and looked for "real" paying clients, but most of them are either too lazy or connected to bother. They can spend their entire careers on the public dole. How sweet it is for them!

  2. Great! that's all we need is a bunch of lawyers (ACLU) liberals telling us what cost are. This means more lawyers telling us what is best for us. This country is made up with laws, by lawyers with no common sense. Bill Clinton said it best,(is) what is, IS.. Bundy (who), Gilmore (who) names that are gone, rehabilitated years ago. Even then the ACLU drug out the peoples wishes for Capital Punishment. How could they do that? By the same laws that the lawyers make to protect their jobs. Liberal, Jerry Brown CA. second term Govenor? (AKA Moonbeam)gave Charles Manson a reprieve for Murders he and his group committed in 1969. Please read "Helter Skelter" Yelp another LIBERAL lawyer telling the people what they want but Ol Charlie lives on. The cost to incarerate a prisoner in California for 1 year (2008-2009) was $47,000. Not to worry though, an ACLU lawyer will be there too help, THE POOR VICTIMS OF SOCIETY.

  3. This is a very slippery slope that we're going down if we cite this study. Certainly I understand that the Death Penalty is a very touchy subject that people are passionate about on both sides, but just for a minute or two here, let's put that aside and ponder something.

    The entire purpose of the ACLU's citing of this study is, to be quite frank, an argument against the death penalty because of it's economic impacts upon tax payers.

    The problem here is that this study is a very serious threat to the Justice System as we all know it. Whether or not you consider incarceration punishment or a chance to rehabilitate a person doesn't matter. In any case we see that after a crime is perpetrated, the person is taken off of the streets to begin their rehabilitation process. If we allow this study and the ACLU to continue pushing THIS particular position as apart of their anti-death penalty agenda, we could very well see the entire system of Law as we know it collapse.

    Our system of law is one that if a person commits a crime, they in turn owe a debt to society. And when it comes to said debt, we try and ensure that the punishment fits the crime appropriately. That system of equality completely goes out the window as soon as we stop considering the damage done to victims, and base both punishment as well as convictions off of economic impact to taxpayers. And it doesn't end there. We would initiate a system where the worse of a crime committed, the more likely you are to get off. Likewise those who commit lesser crimes could face unjustified stiffer punishments because we consider their longer sentences to be more economically viable. The reason being is that if we're not going to dispense a particular punishment because it "costs too much", then we might forgo the entire process of dispensing justice itself by way of refusing to prosecute people simply because their trial too could "cost too much". We are now placing a dollar value upon justice, and that is NOT right!

    Worst of all is if we start considering economic costs involved with prosecution, we now pave the way for Debtors Prisons, indentured servitude, and even forcing people to pay out of pocket for the crimes they commit. This leads to selective prosecution of cases based upon defendant's wealth, and totally erodes the principals our nation was founded on for equality in order to escape the corrupt and perverse law systems of old.

    Dear ACLU,
    I know that you are very passionate about your cases and causes, and I respect that. But you all REALLY need to think things through before you go off half-cocked. You haven't been able to abolish the Death Penalty, so what makes you think that by helping destroy the very things you stand for, you'll be able to undo that damage either?

  4. @lvfacts101...It never fails that when one takes on an opinion about things, not because it is something they truly believe in, but rather they have been told by their political shepherds to hold such opinions,they often forge arguments in direct opposition to their stated views.

    Jerry warns us that if public defenders "were any good in the first palce[sic], they would have hung their shingles out in the public areana[sic]...but most of them are either too lazy or connected to bother." So the only competent attorneys are in the private sector. Those working off the public dole do so because they are "lazy."

    Interesting point to consider, since the lawyers that prosecute people as well as the police who gather the evidence against them are also part of this "lazy or connected" group of people with not enough talent to make it in the private sector.

    Considering people's lives are at stake are these incompetents the one we want making those decisions? Of course the prosecutor and police support the death penalty. It's liberal wet dream of a program. Its far too costly and is ineffective which is enough for must lefties, but it has the added benefit of being supported by mindless people from the right who don't seem to grasp the pro-life means, well, pro-life.

  5. The ACLU is simply pointing out the high cost to be one of many reasons to oppose capital punishment. The pro-death penalty crowd often states that taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for the cost of incarcerating offenders with a life sentence. It is a flawed argument and this study proves it.

    Since 1973, 138 death-row prisoners have been released because they were innocent. Since 1976 it is believed that at least 10 innocent people have been executed. Our criminal justice system cannot be made fail-safe because it is run by human beings, who are fallible. By eliminating the death penalty, we are not letting any guilty person go free, but we are making sure that we do not execute someone who is innocent.