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Letter: Death penalty costly; mistakes too common

Published December 5, 2013 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Wayne Schreck ("How can an execution cost $3 million?," Forum, Nov. 27) suggested hanging a murderer quickly in order to save money, and he asked, "Who is worth that much to execute?" That question is too contemptuous to merit a response. We put a price on cattle, not on people.

The Death Penalty Information Center lists the names of 143 persons who spent as many as 30 years on death row before they were exonerated during the last 30 years. Damon Thibodeaux was acquitted last year after 15 years on death row. Charges against him were dismissed based on DNA evidence from an investigation by prosecution and defense attorneys working together that cost $500,000.

CBS reported that incarceration of one inmate costs an average of $31,307 annually. This means that Thibodeaux's confinement for 15 years plus the successful investigation was nearly $1 million, and that does not include the cost of appealing a finding of "guilty beyond reasonable doubt." But that's just a little pocket change. How much do we owe Thibodeaux and his family for 15 years of psychological and emotional torture?

No, I will not estimate the monetary worth of a human being.

Frank Cameron

Highland