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SPECIAL REPORT: WASTE WATCH: The Cost of Capital Punishment

Updated: Tuesday, February 4 2014, 10:56 PM CST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - This year, the state of Tennessee will spend almost $3 million to house and feed 76 death row inmates. Some groups call that waste, but say the cost to the taxpayers doesn't end there. People who support the death penalty want to change it. Those who oppose capital punishment and those who support it don't usually agree on much. Tonight, both sides tell FOX17 NEWS the real waste comes in the lengthy appeals process that keeps inmates on death row for decades. Both want to see it change. Tennessee's Department of Correction estimates it spends almost $65 to house and feed one inmate for one day. $104 a day for 365 days means the state spends almost $2.9 million a year to house just 76 people that are sentenced to die. Many of them spend decades on death row.

The Department of Correction declined our request for an interview, but a spokesperson says the extra $39 pays for heightened security. Rector says the additional expense in housing a death row inmate is only the tip of the wasteful spending iceberg. A 2004 State Comptroller study says capital trials cost 48% more than trials where prosecutors seek life without parole. Representative Barrett Rich (R-Somerville) is a strong supporter of capital punishment, but he does agree with Rector's group on one thing.

Rector says the best solution is to get rid of the death penalty altogether. The state planned to execute Billy Irick last month, but postponed that date until October. Irick has been on death row since 1986, when he was convicted of raping and killing a 7 year old girl. You can check out this WASTE WATCH story and others HERE.

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