Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Nevada's Death Penalty Cost Study: How Bad Is It?

Nevada's Death Penalty Cost Study: How Bad Is It?
Dudley Sharp


This is a case study in state deception.

1)  a) The Nevada Study (1) only included one death penalty case that ended in execution, 11 years after sentencing.

b) INTENTIONALLY OMITTED:

11 additional executions, since 1977, were omitted, improperly and intentionally, from the study and any reference to them was not provided.

Why?

Because, had those 11 been included,  the death penalty would be found to be cheaper than life without parole (LWOP) cases.

It is an obvious way to fix the study for a desired outcome.

On average, those 11 executions occurred within 5 years after sentencing.

It gets even worse.

2) IMPROPER INCLUSION

a) The Nevada Study wrongly included parole eligible cases, calling them all "non death penalty cases". 56% of the non death penalty cases were/are eligible for parole (2) (see notes, bottom of pg 11, footnote 1).

THE PROBLEM:

b) The only considered alternative to the death penalty is LWOP. Therefore, an equal consideration of LWOP and death penalty case costs, only, should be the measure (3).

Only those 44% of non death penalty cases, that were true LWOP cases, should have been included.

Parole eligible cases should have been excluded from the cost review. 

The parole eligible cases were included only to lower the non death penalty costs, improperly and intentionally, just as the improper and intentional exclusion of 11 death penalty cases were omitted to increase death penalty case costs.

Again, it is an obvious way to fix the study for a desired outcome.

ALSO OMITTED FROM THE STUDY:

3) Without the death penalty, the average LWOP case cost rises, probably substantially.

a) No plea bargains:

1) Without the death penalty, there can no longer be any plea bargains to LWOP. 

After death penalty repeal, LWOP can only be achieved with a full trial, adding to total LWOP costs, as well as the average cost per LWOP case, likely substantially, which must be added as additional costs for the LWOP side of the ledger, if death penalty repeal is considered.

No surprise, the Nevada cost study excluded this.

2) With more LWOP trials, there will be more cases that we result in life with parole eligibility, meaning that cases which, previously, would have gotten either the death penalty or LWOP, some will now get life with parole eligibility which, with some of these cases, would never have been so considered, before.

Because of the degree of horror in most of these cases, parole eligibility would be unthinkable, therefore making repeal of the death penalty a very poor choice, if not unthinkable. That just may be too much of a moral cost.

No surprise, the Nevada cost study excluded this.

b) DEATH PENALTY COST CREDIT:

With the death penalty, any plea bargains to LWOP accrue as a cost credit to the death penalty side of the ledger, as such pleas are only possible because of the death penalty. Such cost credit may include all or part of pre trial, trial and appeals costs for a LWOP case and such credit must be included in any death penalty vs LWOP cost study.

No surprise, the Nevada cost study excluded this.

BAD COST STUDIES ARE THE RULE (3)

4) A PROPER COST STUDY

Here is my suggested protocol for a death penalty vs LWOP cost review, with a detailed, apples to apples cost review (4).

I hope it may be helpful.
======
NONE OF THESE PROBLEMS ARE THE FAULT OF THE AUDIT TEAM, WHO DID WHAT THEY WERE TOLD
======
FOOTNOTES

1) Fiscal Cost of the Death Penalty, PERFORMANCE AUDIT, State Of Nevada, 2014
http://www.leg.state.nv.us/Division/Audit/Full/BE2014/Costs%20of%20Death%20Penalty,%20LA14-25,%20Full.pdf

2) AUDIT HIGHLIGHTS (left hand of Summary page), under Purpose of Audit, Preface.

3) See California, first, and then others

Saving Costs with The Death Penalty
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/02/death-penalty-cost-saving-money.html

4) Death Penalty Costs vs Life Without Parole Costs: Study Protocol