Budgets are moral statements; they demonstrate where an organization’s or a government’s priorities lie, what its values are. So what does it say when the State of South Dakota spends more than $120,000 to kill two men? The state released the costs for the double executions of Eric Robert and Donald Moeller in October of this year:
Personnel Services – $43,956.38
Operating Expenses – $16,571.49
Total – $60,527.87
Personnel Services – $38,351.56
Operating Expenses – $22,269.08
Total – $60,620.64
For a state with a budget of $4 billion, $121278.51 that may not seem like a lot. But that money could have hired four new teachers for a year apiece. It could have hired as many police officers for a year. Either way, with talk of budgets and criminal justice reform filling the air, every dollar makes a moral statement. And $121278.51 said it’s okay to kill those who kill to show that killing is wrong.