An in-depth study by four Seattle University professors found costs related to pursuing the death penalty are about 1.4 to 1.5 times more than when a prosecutor does not seek death.
Combining all cost categories, the average cost of a death penalty case in Washington is $3.07 million, compared to $2.01 million (in 2010 dollars) for cases in which the prosecutor does not seek death. Adjusted to 2014 dollars, that difference is $1.15 million.
These are among the conclusions of a seven-month study, "An Analysis of the Economic Costs of Seeking the Death Penalty in Washington State." (PDF)
The purpose was to estimate the costs associated with pursuit of the death penalty, as compared to cases where the death penalty was not sought, for aggravated first-degree murder cases in Washington. The study was limited to economic cost estimation only. It was developed to provide accurate estimates to inform debate and decision-making by policy makers and the public.
This is the most rigorous empirical study done on the costs of the death penalty in Washington, say the principal authors, Professor from Practice Robert Boruchowitz from the School of Law and Professor Peter Collins from the Criminal Justice Department. The study was funded by a grant from the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington Foundation. The ACLU-WF had no role in conducting the research and did not influence the analysis and formulation of conclusions.
The report notes that the Washington Supreme Court requires at least two lawyers who are experienced in capital cases be appointed for the trial and also for the direct appeal of death penalty cases.