The cost of one murder: $17.25 million

According to a recent study, murders inflict a tremendous monetary cost to society as a whole

By PoliceOne Staff

Murder is not cheap. Besides the obvious emotional costs to murder victims and their families, murders inflict a tremendous monetary cost to society as a whole, according to a recent study.

Matt DeLisi, an Iowa State University associate professor of sociology and director of the criminal justice program, has found the cost of a single murder to be about $17.25 million, according to a news release on ISU’s website.

In their research, DeLisi and a team of five Iowa State graduate students calculated the cost of five crimes — murder, rape, armed robbery, aggravated assault and burglary — by measuring factors such as victim costs, criminal justice system costs, lost productivity for both the victim and the criminal, and estimates on the public’s resulting willingness to pay to prevent future violence.

DeLisi’s research uses data from a study he conducted in 2003, the news release said, on 654 convicted and incarcerated homicide offenders. Beyond their finding that a single murder costs society over $17 million, DeLisi and his team discovered that the most violent offenders — by themselves — cost society greater than $150 million.

"Since the mean homicide conviction was more than one, the average murderer in these analyses actually imposed costs approaching $24 million,” the authors wrote in their study. “For the offender who murdered nine victims, the total murder-specific costs were $155,457,083!"

According to the news release, the researchers also calculated costs of rape ($448,532), armed robbery ($335,733), aggravated assault ($145,379) and burglary ($41,288).

DeLisi and his team’s paper, titled "Murder by numbers: monetary costs imposed by a sample of homicide offenders," was published in the August 2010 edition of The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology.

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