As the 2014 Idaho Legislature heads toward its final hours, a much-anticipated review of the financial cost of capital murder cases was unveiled Wednesday afternoon. The study, which was requested by the 2013 Idaho Legislature concluded that capital cases take much longer than noncapital cases, but any comprehensive data on the costs of the death penalty would require "a considerable amount of effort and resources."
The Idaho Legislature's nonpartisan Office of Performance Evaluation conducted the study, chronicling how 40 Idaho defendants have been sentenced to death since 1977, with three being executed. Of the 40 that were sentenced to death, 53 percent have had their sentences changed to life with or without parole. Additionally, from 1998 to 2013, 251 Idaho defendants have been charged with first-degree murder and of those, 42 were prosecuted with the potential of a death penalty and seven have received a death sentence.
The study found that first-degree murder defendants who had a trial, the process of reaching a judgment took seven months longer for capital cases than for noncapital cases.
But conducting additional evaluations on the actual financial cost of the death penalty would cost more time and effort, according to the study. While the Idaho Department of Correction and the Idaho State Appellate Public Defender's Office are able to provide financial data, the Idaho Supreme Court, the Office of the Attorney General and local law enforcement prosecutors, public defenders and courts said they would need more time to develop processes for collecting the financial data.
You can read the full 75-page report here.