Today, we learned that the death penalty, on average, costs about $10 million more per year per state than life without parole, according to The Death Penalty Information Center.
So let's talk finances. Texas now has an unemployment rate of 8.2 percent, a 22-year high. As people move out and businesses shut down, that's less in both property taxes collected and in sales tax revenue. If building slows down, as it seems it may, we're looking at further slow down.
Texas has about 336 inmates on death row. At $10 million more (granted, I haven't looked to see if other states have more), we're looking at a lot of extra money we're spending to keep guys alive until we kill 'em.
That's a lot of zeros. So can you really be a fiscal conservative if you're for the death penalty?
And that's also Rick Perry's problem - and the problem of every other state currently actively using the death penalty. Every state is pretty much experiencing some shortfalls. Even without the Willingham case enveloping him like three-day burrito, can Perry and the state legislature make a case for keeping the death penalty fiscally?
Now, some are going to argue that the end result - getting no-good killers off the streets forever - is worth the extra expense.
So what they're saying is: "It's for the greater good, so it's OK to spend this money."
Is that so? Really? It's OK to spend more if it's going to be better for the state and the country?
But when we can keep a guy in prison his entire life with less expense than killing him - and when we can't even make sure we're killing someone that needs killing?
Well, I don't know if I can justify that expense. Can you?