OFFICE OF FISCAL ANALYSIS

Legislative Office Building, Room 5200

Hartford, CT 06106 (860) 240-0200

http: //www. cga. ct. gov/ofa

HB-6578

AN ACT CONCERNING THE PENALTY FOR A CAPITAL FELONY.

OFA Fiscal Note

State Impact:

Agency Affected

Fund-Effect

FY 10 $

FY 11 $

Various Criminal Justice Agencies

GF - Net Savings

Potential Significant

Potential Significant

Note: GF=General Fund

Municipal Impact: None

Explanation

The bill eliminates the death penalty as a sentencing option for crimes committed on or after the bill's effective date. On an annual basis, repeal of the death penalty is expected to result in state savings of up to $4 million from a reduction in litigation costs. The full amount of these savings would not be achieved for several years, however, since litigation would continue for those offenders presently on death row or facing the death penalty.

Litigation Savings

The state would save up to $4 million annually in defense and prosecution costs due to a repeal of the death penalty. The state would also avoid significant, intermittent costs to state agencies to carry out executions and litigate cases before the CT Supreme Court. These savings would be partially offset by additional costs to incarcerate prisoners for terms of life rather than being executed prior.

The state Public Defender Services Commission maintains a Capital Defense and Trial Services Unit consisting of 14 staff members that costs approximately $2 million annually (including fringe benefits budgeted centrally within the Office of the State Comptroller) to operate. It is anticipated that this unit could be eliminated entirely with the repeal of the death penalty. The Division of Criminal Justice's expenditures attributable to the death penalty are not concentrated in a single cost center or entirely among particular employees. However, it is expected that a significant amount of savings could be obtained within that agency, as well.

The Judicial Department could experience minimal savings (overtime, travel reimbursements and other expenses) to the extent that future extraordinary judicial proceedings, such as the Saturday morning session of the Connecticut Supreme Court held on January 22, 2005, to hear a motion in a death penalty case, are precluded. Likewise, the Public Defender Services Commission and Division of Criminal Justice could avoid future extraordinary costs related to litigation over the constitutionality of the death penalty (e. g. , in aggregate, these state agencies will have spent approximately $830,000 since FY 07 to hire expert witnesses to determine whether or not racial bias exists in the imposition of the death penalty).

Corrections Costs / Savings

The Department of Correction incurred costs in the amount of $316,000 to carry out an execution in 2005. These costs would be foregone for future executions that would be eliminated by the bill.

However, these savings would be offset by the costs to the DOC to the extent that inmates serve lengthier periods of incarceration: serving the term of life rather than being executed prior.

The average cost of incarceration for an inmate at Northern Correctional Institution, where Death Row is located, is $96,000 per year. There are currently 10 men on death row at Northern which results in an annual cost of $960,000 to incarcerate them. The average age is 38. 5. The national average of time spent on death row prior to execution is about 13 years. Given the lack of fully litigated executions in CT, the cost of additional prison time for these men in lieu of execution is unknown.

The Out Years

The annualized ongoing fiscal impact identified above would continue into the future subject to inflation.

Sources:

Annual Report of the Chief Public Defender

 

State Comptroller's Annual Report of per diem cost estimates