OFFICE OF FISCAL ANALYSIS
Legislative Office Building, Room 5200
Hartford, CT 06106 ¯ (860) 240-0200
AN ACT CONCERNING CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM.
LCO No.: 10100
OFA Fiscal Note
The amendment results in state savings of more than $1 million annually by repealing the death sentence as an authorized penalty for any person who commits certain crimes. The amendment also commutes the penalty for individuals presently under sentence of death to life imprisonment without the possibility of release.
The Division of Public Defender Services Commission (PDSC) maintains a Capital Defense and Trial Services Unit, which has as its sole purpose the defense of clients in death penalty cases on a statewide basis. The Unit has thirteen staff members assigned to it, and a budget of about $1.3 million. In addition, the Division spends approximately $800, 000 for special public defenders and expert witness testimony in death penalty cases.
Some of the resources identified above, particularly for contracted special public defenders and expert witness testimony but also potentially including one or more staff members, would be reallocated to continue to defend the approximate 34 individuals accused or convicted of murder each year who would otherwise have faced the death penalty. The remaining resources presently devoted exclusively to the defense of capital cases could be saved as a result of the amendment. This amount is estimated to be $1 million annually.
The Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) does not have a statewide capital prosecution unit comparable to the PDSC's Capital Defense and Trial Services Unit. Instead, the DCJ leaves responsibility for capital prosecutions in the hands of the State's Attorney for each individual Judicial District. The same experienced Senior Assistant State's Attorney has been assigned to all of the death penalty appeals to date. Post-conviction litigation is handled by the agency's Civil Litigation Bureau, which is headed by a senior prosecutor with appellate death penalty experience. The distribution of workload among offices and prosecutors with other duties, in addition to the fact that the Division of Criminal Justice does not separately track its death penalty – related costs, limits the extent to which the agency's costs attributable to the death penalty can be quantified.
Notwithstanding the lack of quantified budgetary costs to the DCJ, it is reasonable to conclude that the agency devotes a level of staff time to the prosecution of death penalty cases that is comparable to that of the PDSC to defend them. The overall fiscal value of prosecutorial services is therefore roughly equivalent; however, because it is not concentrated in a single cost center or entirely among particular employees, budgetary savings would be more difficult to realize within the DCJ if the amendment were to become law.
The Judicial Department could experience minimal savings (overtime, travel reimbursements and other expenses) under the amendment to the extent that future extraordinary judicial proceedings, such as the Saturday morning session of the Connecticut Supreme Court held on January 22, 2005, are precluded. It is anticipated that the Judicial Department would also experience a workload decrease similar to that of the PDSC and the DCJ.
The amendment would result in savings and cost to the Department of Correction (DOC) . The savings relate to avoiding the costs that are incurred as a result of preparing for, and carrying out, an execution; the costs relate to the increased length of time that an individual would be incarcerated rather than being executed.
The costs associated with conducting an execution were $315, 687 in the Michael Ross case. However, if an additional execution were to take place in the near future, the cost would be significantly lower since staff would not need to be re-trained, and the majority of equipment that was purchased can be reused.
However, these savings would be offset by additional costs related to a lengthier period of incarceration due to an inmate serving the term of life rather than being executed prior. The average cost of incarceration for an inmate at Northern Correctional Institution is $66, 000 per year. The annual cost for inmates on death row is the same as the cost for inmates who are incarcerated for life at Northern Correctional Institution.
The preceding Fiscal Impact statement is prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for the purposes of information, summarization and explanation and does not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose.