Capital Punishment In Relation To Economics

Capital Punishment In Relation To Economics

Capital punishment in the US has been widely applied as a form of restitution, retribution as well as incapacitation to curb some of the cruel acts in society. The Federal Government has however implemented the policies of bringing forth death penalties on people who tend to engage in such forms of criminal activities including conspiracy and espionage. When it comes to the world of economics, the implementation of capital punishment cannot be ignored (McCafferty, 2017). Many of the US societies have used capital punishment from an economics viewpoint in cases where the marginal costs have outweighed the marginal benefits. However, there must be an evaluation of the benefits of the death penalties as well as its expenses before any forms of recommendations can be given out. Quantifying the benefits and costs linked with death penalties is quite tricky. This study, however, is aimed at providing an economic analysis on capital punishment as well as the economic significance of other aspects like deterrence as well as costs associated with death penalties. The study also is based on describing the marginal costs and benefits of imposed death penalties.

Keywords: Capital punishment, deterrence, marginal cost, marginal benefits, a death penalty

Capital punishment is the act of imposing legal laws aimed at executing or killing someone who has gone against the administrative law. Currently, about forty states have the statutes of death penalties but surprisingly, in the last two decades, only seventeen of the states have ordered for the execution of more than two inmates. Economic experts in the US have however questioned whether imposing death penalties on the violators of the law are effective and efficient (Bohm, 2016). They question this efficiency basing on the number of successful executions that have been conducted in these forty states so far. The use of capital punishment from the economic point of view should only come into play when it is found out that the marginal costs are by so far outweighed by the marginal benefits. The cost-benefit analysis of the imposed death penalties is essential when it comes to the analysis of capital punishment efficiency and effectiveness. The reason is that analyzing the costs and benefits provides economists as well as law enforcers a platform for great recommendations (Bohm, 2016). Many individuals, however, tend to believe that the benefits that come along with theses death penalties are more than the costs.


When it comes to the benefits associated with the death penalties, they are more than the benefits that are associated with a case like life imprisonment. The difference between total life imprisonment benefits and total death penalty benefits make up the marginal benefits. Marginal economic cost, on the other hand, is the difference between the associated capital trial process costs and the murder trial costs where in most cases life imprisonment is the maximum sentence (Kasten, 2016).  When an economic analysis is being conducted on the death penalty costs, the only significant aspects are the additional costs associated with a murder case life imprisonment and the other charges realized during a capital case. The overall costs the state’s death penalty implementation is not the most significant aspect.


Capital punishment proponents tend to believe that deterring potential lawbreakers from murdering is the most significant benefit of the death penalty. The value of a murder that has been avoided is an economic deterrence benefit (Chalfin and McCrary, 2017).  This is because fewer cases of murder bring some benefits to the society since there is a likelihood of a decline in the overall costs of protection as the murder rates decrease. The overall productivity of a state; hence, therefore, is more likely to improve as a result of deterred murders (Kasten, 2016). Death penalties in the world of economics have had some associated benefits.

In most cases the marginal willingness to make payments for a specific right end up being interpreted as that particular good’s marginal benefit. Individuals who are not involved with the death penalty of individuals facing punishment tend to benefit from the implementation of capital punishment. The family members of the ones who were murdered often find themselves in the category of these people (Chalfin and McCrary, 2017). They are given some restitution levels and improved utility after the occurrence of the executions. This relieves them emotionally and hence is some form of benefit.

A nation is more likely to incur some costs when executing murder (Kasten, 2016). The expenses which are linked to capital punishment start with the investigation of crimes by the police force and the resulting final cost is the process of burial. The entire burdens of the financial state of a nation ought to be evaluated way before a sensible and meaningful assessment of the efficiency of the incurred death penalty on the economy can be drafted. Police officers, as well as other investigators, use much of their time on finding out particular details about the one linked with the crime. The government, therefore, provides them with a lot of money to aid them in carrying out high quality and extensive investigations. These investigations are a handful to the overall economy of the government if they so happen to be conducted regularly until the root cause of a particular crime is solved. When the government uses most of the money in carrying out the investigations, the overall economic status is more likely to be affected as most of the money is spent on the action (Kasten, 2016). Some of the information regarding the mean investigation cost in a non-capital trial of murder becomes limited. When this happens a more meaningful assessment of increased work of the police as well as marginal cost is significantly inhibited. In this case, the marginal on the alleviated focus on capital cases investigators is the difference between capital case used resources.


The state is also likely to incur costs when it comes to trial and sentencing. The judicial system incurs some expenses linked to research activities conducted by court lawyers before trial. In the capital case, careful evaluation is more likely to take more time than in the case of a non-capital case. An extended time means more funding for the case (Chalfin and McCrary, 2017).  This interferes with the economy since there is a high probability of using more money for a single case before the final trial can be passed and it interferes with the overall coat room costs.


To conclude, the marginal costs and benefits of death penalties have been described. It is, however, difficult to quantify the costs and benefits linked with death penalties. Deterrence, on the other hand, is beneficial when it comes to death penalties. The overall economy of a state is more likely to be interfered with when the government incurs some costs after executing death penalties. It is therefore essential for the government to revisit the issue of death penalties for the sake of a nation’s economic well being.




Bohm, R. M. (2016). Deathquest: An introduction to the theory and practice of capital punishment in the United States. Routledge.

Chalfin, A., & McCrary, J. (2017). Criminal deterrence: A review of the literature. Journal of Economic Literature, 55(1), 5-48.

Kasten, Martin (2016) “An Economic Analysis of the Death Penalty,” University Avenue Undergraduate Journal of Economics: Vol. 1: Iss. 1, Article 2.
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McCafferty, J. A. (2017). Capital punishment. Routledge.