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Risk and Execution: The Local Impact of Capital Cases on Mississippi Counties

39 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2013 Last revised: 28 Nov 2017

Valena Elizabeth Beety

West Virginia University - College of Law

Date Written: March 20, 2013


Mississippi codified the death penalty because people thought a death sentence was a fair punishment for the most heinous of crimes. And, as predicted by behavioral economics, people were willing to sacrifice their own material well-being — in other words, willing to pay — to punish wrongdoers.

But the death penalty is not fair. Regardless of whether the death penalty is a just punishment, the financial toll that this policy places on citizens and counties is unfair. Because citizens have continually paid the costs of punishment, the costs have slowly disappeared from sight and knowledge in correlation to their growth. As the cost of a death penalty trial rises through subsequent appeals, counties must levy additional taxes to pay trial expenses, instead of using these taxes to pay for paving roads or repairing bridges. Few officials discuss the financial burden and consequences of the death penalty. This Article seeks to remedy that silence.

Keywords: death penalty, Mississippi, criminal justice, capital cases

Suggested Citation

Beety, Valena Elizabeth, Risk and Execution: The Local Impact of Capital Cases on Mississippi Counties (March 20, 2013). 82 Miss. L.J. 1337 (2013); WVU Law Research Paper No. 2013-4. Available at SSRN:

Valena Elizabeth Beety (Contact Author)

West Virginia University - College of Law ( email )

Box 6130
Morgantown, WV West Virginia 26506
United States

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