KSLA News 12 Investigates: Paying for death row

KSLA New 12 Investigates: The cost of death row

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Louisiana is in a financial crisis.  Few will argue that one.  While every state office goes under the microscope, what about the Department of Corrections' Death Row?

Linda Logan of Shreveport is asking that very question, some 27 years after her sister, Deborah Ford, was killed by Shreveport serial killer Nathaniel Code.  "The jury said death, he's a horrible man, been on death row 20 something years already.  Then do it", says Logan.  She adds she's tired of the waiting on the system to work.

August 31, 1984, 25 year old Deborah Ford is brutally attacked in the Cedar Grove neighborhood.  She was the first of what's believed to be at least a dozen victims, murdered by Code.  He was convicted and later sentenced to death row in 1991. 

Since then, Caddo Parish District Attorney Charles Scott along with past D.A. Paul Carmouche, they've witnessed Code's repeated trips to and from court appealing both the verdict and the death penalty itself.  Says Scott, "if a person is transported back to court time and time again, that cost has to be very high."  Scott admits it's almost impossible to calculate those costs.  However we have done the math on taxpayer money spent to house Code at Angola.  The current rate is $62 taxpayer dollars a day to house and feed Code.  To date, $500,000 in taxpayer dollars have been spent to provide Code with ‘three hots and a cot' for the last quarter century.  "Why are you making us suffer over and over again," says Logan.  "Every time tax dollars go to him, that makes you cringe right there."

We discovered what seemed to be Internet postings by Nathaniel Code, searching for pen pals and even hinting at the need for money.  This discovery is very disturbing and upsetting to Deborah's sister Linda.  "Here this guy hit the jackpot.  Publishers Clearinghouse has come to his cell and said, you don't have to spend a dime."  After 21 years on death row, a death warrant could be signed – to officially begin the death penalty countdown – later this fall.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Texas spends $2.3 million on each of their death penalty cases.  For that same amount of money, Texas could house that same inmate for 120 years.  And it's estimated that California spends $137 million taxpayer dollars per year on the death penalty, despite not executing anyone in over four years.

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