One Consequence Of Law Divorced From Economic Scarcity: $308MM Death Sentences

This latest travesty of criminal and economic justice courtesy of The Atlantic:

Their report showed that since the current death-penalty statute was enacted in 1978, [California] taxpayers have spent more than $4 billion on only 13 executions, or roughly $308 million per execution. As of 2009, prosecuting death-penalty cases cost upwards of $184 million more each year than life-without-parole cases. Housing, health care, and legal representation for California’s current death-row population of 714—the largest in the country—account for $144 million in annual extra costs. If juries continue to send an average of 20 convicts to San Quentin’s death row each year, and executions continue at the present rate, by 2030 the ranks of the condemned will have swelled to more than 1,000, and California’s taxpayers will have spent $9 billion to execute a total of 23 inmates.

Law and the legal system is part of the economy, that is, it falls under it, not outside of it. The law is a means to a particular end (justice). It is irrational to turn the means (law) into an end itself by placing it outside the economic calculation nexus. When you do, the result is arbitration and punishment costs which far exceed any reasonable estimate of the actual damage the convicted has caused along with the potential settlement cost of future torts following a potential “vigilante” solution to the problem.