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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Columns

Jodi Arias not worth tax payers’ dollars


On May 8, an Arizona jury found Jodi Arias guilty of first-degree murder. Arias’ story of self-defense against her former boyfriend Travis Alexander wasn’t convincing enough to sway the jury in her favor. Now, as the penalty phase goes into its second round after a hung jury, the question surrounding the case is whether Arias will be given life without parole or the death penalty.David Delgado/ The Daily Cougar

There are many moral aspects that shape a person’s views on the death penalty ranging from religious views to views of the Constitution. While these can be argued until everyone is blue in the face, nearly everyone can agree that when it comes to money nobody wants to waste a penny.

This is, undoubtedly, the most concrete reason Arias should not be sentenced to the death penalty. Enough money has already been wasted on the trial.

The Huffington Post estimates that, by the time the next round of the penalty phase is (hopefully) finished, Maricopa County taxpayers will have spent $1 million on Arias’ lawyer fees. The trial has seen such expenses as $250 an hour for research and $300 an hour for testimony from expert witnesses. Because Arias is represented by public defenders this number will only rise if she is sentenced to the death penalty and the public can be sure to see round after round of appeals, all while the taxpayers of Maricopa foot the bill.

Throughout the years of waiting for an execution date, inmates tend to see an annual invoice nearly double as they must be housed on death row, go through countless appeals, and basic prison costs, which is also on the taxpayers’ shoulders.

Talking about this on paper seems relatively simple, but no one truly knows how the jury will decide even if the 24-hour media coverage continues to speculate the different scenarios every day.

“I would say that when trials turn into media circuses, they can really go either way,” said UH Law Professor Sandra Guerra Thompson.

“There was outrage over the verdict.  But the point is that during the jury’s deliberations, they probably didn’t know the public’s opinion, or, if they did, they ignored it,” Thompson said.

A new jury will be chosen and if the new panel finds themselves gridlocked, as the previous sentencing jury did, the death penalty will be removed as an option and the judge will give an executive decision to be chosen from life with the possibility of parole or life without parole.

While the way in which Arias brutally murdered her former boyfriend is reprehensible, so is the amount of taxpayers’ money that has already been spent on the trial. Moral aspects of the death penalty aside, the public likely doesn’t want to continue giving funds year after year as the case goes through with multiple rounds of appeals to try to sway the court to get Arias off death row.

 Caroline Giese is a public relations senior and may be reached at [email protected].

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