The Death Penalty: Ethics and Economics in Mississippi
35 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2020
Date Written: October 22, 2012
This Article posits that Mississippi’s growing willingness to rethink the death penalty in its current financial and penal situation is indicative of changes in the death penalty dialogue nationally, changes that have revived debate about the death penalty on both economic and ethical grounds. Part I reviews the history of the death penalty in Mississippi to provide a basis for comparison with its current status in the state. Part II examines the actions of court justices in ultimately opposing the death penalty, whether these decisions were economically or ethically influenced. Part III examines the political climate surrounding the death penalty and prison growth in general in Mississippi, and how that climate is changing under economic pressures. Part IV addresses the cost of the death penalty, particularly in the face of budgetary constraints. Part V compares Mississippi to other states in similar circumstances.
Lastly, Part VI examines the cases of Paul Woodward and Kennedy Brewer, two men sentenced to death in Mississippi. Paul Woodward was executed in 2010, while Kennedy Brewer was proven innocent and exonerated in 2008. These two cases highlight the indispensability of post-conviction counsel, and the necessary costs of the extensive appeals process in death penalty cases. These Mississippi cases reveal the economic necessity of fully funding counsel and evidence preservation and analysis for capital cases, underscoring how the cost of the death penalty will always intersect with the ethics of the institution.
Keywords: Death Penalty, Wrongful Conviction, Innocence, Criminal, Justice, Mississippi
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