Published on February 25, 2009 | by LawNews
Prof. Eric Freedman in The New York Times
Professor Eric M. Freedman, Maurice A. Deane Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law, was quoted in the following New York Times article.
Citing Cost, States Consider End to Death Penalty
By Ian Urbina
The New York Times
February 25, 2009
Since 1978, five people have been executed in Maryland, and five inmates are on death row.
Opponents of repealing capital punishment say such measures are short-sighted and will result in more crime and greater costs to states down the road. At a time when police departments are being scaled down to save money, the role of the death penalty in deterring certain crimes is more important than ever, they say.
“How do you put a price tag on crimes that don’t happen because threat of the death penalty deters them?” said Scott Shellenberger, the state’s attorney for Baltimore County, Md., who opposes the repeal bill.
Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, an organization in Sacramento that works on behalf of crime victims, called the anticipated savings a mirage. He added that with the death penalty, prosecutors can more easily offer life sentences in a plea bargain and thus avoid trial costs.
But Eric M. Freedman, a death penalty expert at Hofstra Law School, said studies had shown that plea bargaining rates were roughly the same in states that had the death penalty as in states that did not.
“It makes perfect sense that states are trying to spend their criminal justice budgets better,” he said, “and that the first place they look to do a cost-benefit analysis is the death penalty.”