It’s difficult to argue that the death penalty is a deterrent (except for the person being executed), since capital punishment is such a crap shoot. The chance of a murderer actually facing the ultimate penalty is somewhat greater than my chance of winning the lottery, but only somewhat. A lengthy appeals process so far removes the punishment from the crime to which it is attached that no rational person would wory about it. Then there is the cost of such cases:
The cost of trying to put Daniel Ray Wilkes to death in a triple murder case is approaching $300,000.
If convicted, Wilkes, 39, faces the death penalty in the April 2006 deaths of an Evansville mother and her two young daughters.
[. . .]
Sites said the average defense cost for a death penalty case in Indiana is about $375,000. She said that accounts for expenses through trial.
“So $291,000 at this point, no, I would not say that is unusual,” she said. “There will still be expenditures at trial, but it doesn’t sound out of line.”
Such amounts strain the budgets of many jurisdictions. Even if a prosecutor might want to bring 10 cases a year, the county might be able to afford only one or two a year.