Colorado Rights Blog

Sarah Spears By: Sarah Spears 10.10.2013

Misplaced Priorities White Paper

A death penalty trial costs Colorado taxpayers approximately $3.5 million versus $150,000 for a life without parole trial. Prosecutors are currently pursuing the death penalty in three counties that have made recent deep cuts to important public priorities and services.

(Cost figures were calculated by Coloradans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty based on open records requests from recent death penalty and life without parole trials in Colorado. The $3.5 million and $150,000 estimates include trial costs only, not the additional costs of the appeals process.)

The costs of a death penalty trial would pay for:

•   One month of essential services (meals, rides, and in-home services) to 10,000 elderly Coloradans
Retrieved from: Schaufele, Jennifer. “Colorado’s elderly are facing dire cuts due to the sequester.” The Denver Post 8/30/2013
http://blogs.denverpost.com/opinion/2013/08/30/drcog-elderly-cuts/41486/  [$3,500,000/$350=10,000]

•   Give nearly 500 more children access to Head Start
Retrieved from: Lu, Adrienne. “Head Start hit with worst cuts in its history.” USA Today 8/20/13
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/08/19/stateline-head-start/2671309/ [$400,000,000/$57,000=$7.017.54 per child] [$3,500,000/$7,017.54=498]

•   Pay 77 firefighters’ salaries
Retrieved from: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010 Median Pay http://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/firefighters.htm  [$3,500,000/45,250=77]

•   Pay 71 teachers’ salaries
Retrieved from: Colorado Department of Education, average teacher salary, Fall 2011 http://www.cde.state.co.ushttp://aclu-co.org/sites/default/files/documents/cdereval/download/pdf/avgteachersal/2011avgteachersalary.pdf  [$3,500,000/49,046=71]

•   Pay the salaries of 115 EMT/Paramedics
Retrieved from: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010 Median Pay (http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/emts-and-paramedics.htm)  [$3,500,000/$30,360=115]

•   Buy more than 40,000 new high school algebra textbooks
Retrieved from: Holt McDougal online pricing [last accessed 10/2/13]
http://www.hmhco.com/shop/k12/Holt-McDougal-Larson-Algebra-1/9780547315157  [$3,500,000/$86.65=40,392]

Taxpayers are spending millions on death penalty trials while:

•   Arapahoe County is accruing over $200,000,000 in debt obligations.

Retrieved from: “Debt and Lease Obligations. Arapahoe County: Budget 2013. p284.
http://co-arapahoecounty.civicplus.com/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/114
o Arapahoe County accrued $201,277,016 of debt obligation.
o Arapahoe County Government Total Capital Lease Obligations + Arapahoe County Water & Wastewater Public Improvement District Total General Obligation Bonds = Total Outstanding Debt and Capital Lease Obligations (12/21/2013 Principal Balance) = $50,075,000 + $151,202,016 = $201,277,016

•   Denver County is “furloughing employees, reducing library hours, and delaying street repairs.”
Retrieved from: Meyer, Jeremy. “Mayor Hancock pushes for "de-Brucing." The Denver Post 09/13/2012
http://www.denverpost.com/ci_21530301/denver-budget-cuts-94-million-mayor-hancock-pushes
o “Achieves $94 million in cuts by furloughing employees, reducing library hours and delaying street repairs.”

•   Douglas County is cutting more than $300,000 from developmental disability services.
Retrieved from: “Other Governmental Services.” Douglas County 2013 Adopted Budget. p183
http://www.douglas.co.us/finance/documents/2013-budget-book.pdf
o Cutting $303,742 from Developmental Disability services.
o Douglas County 2012 Developmental Disabilities Expenditures – Douglas County 2013 Developmental Disabilities Expenditures = Developmental Disabilities Expenditure Loss/Cuts = $4,863,565 – $4,559,823 = $303,742

Tweets

Videos

  • Executive Director Nathan Woodliff-Stanley spoke at the marriage equality rally on March 3rd

  • Leisel Kemp, whose brother Jason was killed by CSP after they entered his home without a warrant, spoke at the 2013 Bill of Rights Dinner about the ACLU’s legal advocacy on behalf of her family.

  • Out of Sight, Out of Mind is an original short film from the ACLU of Colorado about a man who has spent 17 years in solitary confinement and now suffers from debilitating mental illness.

  • A small sampling of the many Coloradans who are grateful to our legislators for making civil unions happen last year.