clock menu more-arrow no yes

This chart shows America's Old Testament thinking on the death penalty

The most popular reason for supporting the death penalty is still "eye for an eye" retribution, but an increasing number of Americans over the past couple decades have cited taxpayer savings as their reason for backing capital punishment.

Jishai Evers at Dadaviz charted the trends, based on survey data from Gallup of reasons cited by US death penalty supporters:

death penalty support

While basically no capital punishment supporters cited financial concerns in 1991, by this year 14 percent of supporters said they backed the death penalty to "save taxpayers money."

It actually costs more money to send convicts to death row than it does to imprison them for life, according to an investigation by the Associated Press. "It's 10 times more expensive to kill them than to keep them alive," Donald McCartin, a former California jurist known as "The Hanging Judge of Orange County" for sending nine men to death row, told the AP. Since states don't want to get any death penalty cases wrong, each conviction has to go through a lot of slow appeals — and that drives up costs.