When I examined the cost of Florida’s death penalty many years ago, I concluded that seeing a death sentence through to execution costs at least six times as much as a life sentence. A more recent study by a federal commission pegged the difference in the costs of the trials at eight times as much. Duke University professor Philip J. Cook studied North Carolina’s system and concluded that the Tar Heel State could save $11 million per year by abolishing the death penalty. California’s system incurs excess costs estimated at some $200 million per year . From Kansas to Maryland , Tennessee to Pennsylvania , studies have all reached similar conclusions.
The impact that death penalty publicity has on individuals' criminal activity can be examined in terms of the 'deterrence argument.' In the United States, the 'deterrence argument' is one of the most common justifications for the continued use of capital punishment.   Essentially, the deterrence argument puts forth the notion that executing criminals deters other individuals from engaging in criminal activity.   The existence of a deterrence effect is disputed. Studies – especially older ones – differ as to whether executions deter other potential criminals from committing murder or other crimes. The validity of the deterrence argument has been the subject of social science research since the 18th century, studied by many scholars, including Baldus & Cole in 1975;  Beccaria in 1764;  Bentham in 1830;  Sellin in 1955,  1961,  and 1967;  Schuessler in 1952;  and Tarde in 1912.  Until 1975, such studies agreed that executing convicted criminals and publicizing said executions did not significantly deter other individuals from committing crimes, thus disproving the deterrence argument.