State Rep. Brett Harrell among Republicans around the U.S. calling for abolition of death penalty

By Curt Yeomans curt.yeomans@gwinnettdailypost.com

To state Rep. Brett Harrell, R-Snellville, there are several issues with Georgia keeping the death penalty, but the biggest one he raised in a video chat with reporters this past week was cost.

The Gwinnett legislator and Georgia House Ways and Means Committee chairman was one of three state legislators, each from a different state, who participated in a virtual press conference hosted by Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. The legislators highlighted issues with the death penalty and reasons why it should be abolished.

“The death penalty is an incredibly expansive proposition and evidence suggests, study after study, that it is not in fact a deterrent to crime, and we have alternatives such as life without parole,” Harrell said. “So, as someone who is a fiscal conservative and prefers a smaller government that is consistent with the efficient implementation of government, the death penalty fails on all of those measures.”

Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty National Manager Hannah Cox said the death penalty is the most expensive part of the criminal justice system on a per offender basis.

“Contrary to what many people believe, the reason for those costs is not because it takes too long,” Cox said. “In fact, we see that the trial is where the majority of the cost stems from. Over 70% of the costs come from the trial alone, and we also see that the trial is about four times more expansive than the appellate process.

“And so, really even if you were to hasten the speed at which we carry out executions, we would not be addressing the extra ordinary amount of money that we spend on this system.”

Harrell pointed to a case in Lincoln County from several years ago where a district attorney pursued the death penalty in a case, but could not get a conviction.

Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty National Manager Hannah Cox said the death penalty is the most expensive part of the criminal justice system on a per offender basis.

“Contrary to what many people believe, the reason for those costs is not because it takes too long,” Cox said. “In fact, we see that the trial is where the majority of the cost stems from. Over 70% of the costs come from the trial alone, and we also see that the trial is about four times more expansive than the appellate process.

“And so, really even if you were to hasten the speed at which we carry out executions, we would not be addressing the extra ordinary amount of money that we spend on this system.”

Harrell pointed to a case in Lincoln County from several years ago where a district attorney pursued the death penalty in a case, but could not get a conviction.