Homicides are more than just deadly. They are also very, very expensive. According to one study, the average cost of a homicide is a cool $17.25 million. The study, founded by Iowa State University, looked at victim costs, criminal justice system costs, lost productivity estimates, and estimates on the public's willingness to pay to prevent future violence.
The Clarion Ledger quotes the study:
"That each murder costs more than $17.25 million still does not convey the true costs imposed by homicide offenders in the current sample. Since the mean homicide conviction was more than one, the average murder in these analyses acutally imposed costs approaching $24 million. For the offender who murdered nine victims, the total murder-specific costs were $155,457,083!"
An overwhelming majority of this high sum is the result of the amount of money citizens would be willing to pay to prevent future crime. The study also used the same formula to determine the costs of other crimes: rape ($448,532), armed robbery ($335,733), aggravated assault ($145,379), and burglary ($41,288).
Crime prevention is a broad term encompassing any government or community-based iniative aimed at reducing and detering crime. Crime prevention can come in various forms including: rehabilitating minor offenders (in hopes that they do not become major offenders), crime education and deterrent programs, and increased police supervision in high crime areas. The high cost of crime prevention, and the willingness of those polled in the study to spend signifigant funds to stop crime before it happens is telling. In the end, putting a figure on a life is an impossible pursuit, but the average homicide cost does represent the all-encompassing tragedy that inevitably accompanies any homicide.