Death-penalty cases rack up big dollars in Miami-Dade

Death-penalty cases rack up big dollars in Miami-Dade

Summary: Compared to the rest of the state of Florida, death penalty cases in MiamiDade County are more common, and have racked up a taxpayer bill of $50 million
dollars for 352 first-degree murder cases since the late 1990s. Currently, the most
expensive death penalty case, with an open bill of $.24 million, is for the defense of the
gang, The Terrorist Boyz, for 9 murders and other shootings in 2002 and 2003. Both
the prosecution and the defense blame the other side for the extremely high charges,
yet both justify their side of the casework.

The defense takes someone’s life into theirhands, and must complete mitigation investigations in timely manners if they want the prosecution to waive the death penalty quicker, but the defense argues that the
prosecution just wants the impending penalty to use as plea bargaining leverage. The
prosecution admits that they request the death penalty for all first-degree murder
defendants because they must submit their decisions within 45 days, so this leaves their
option open for when they can actually find the time assess one case out of a large
caseload. The second highest paid defense lawyer of Miami-Dade county claims that
their hourly rate of $100 an hour for public defense cases is actually under market
value for the quality of their work, their high case load in Miami, and their high level of
experience and success in getting the death penalty waived. The prosecution then
counters that defense lawyers intentionally drag out cases because they are paid on
hourly rates. Due to the pending decisions from the Florida Supreme Court on death
penalty future and past cases, speeding up the years of time needed to conduct capital
punishment trials is not expected to happen any time soon. [Word count: 308]
Importance: This article directly relates to Chapter 14, specifically the topic of the cost
of the death penalty (p.311-312). In many states across the country, pursuing the
death penalty rather than life in prison without parole has escalated judicial costs into
the billions. The cost of a death penalty case ranges from 21-48% more than non-death
penalty cases. This can be accounted for all the extra litigation, like special defense
strategies, collateral attacks, and deposition expenses, which are constitutionally
required for capital punishment to be pursued. Even after a defendant is sentenced to
the death penalty, they constitutionally are allowed to appeal their case, which adds on
even more millions of dollars to the capital punishment bill. The death penalty is
clearly more costly than housing serious offenders for life in prison, and these data
must be considered to help our government’s budget. [Word count: 142]

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