When it comes to death penalty, perhaps no state offers more cruel and unusual punishment than Utah. It is the only state in the union that authorizes execution by firing squad. But the real debate isn’t whether Utah should should maintain firing squad executions. Rather, should the state continue its policy of capital punishment altogether? Although Utah does not lead the nation in executions (Texas does), the idea of putting prisoners to death may be running its course. While many death row inmates have committed brutal crimes and deserve an early departure, is it humane and worth the expense of the taxpayer?
Time Consuming Process
There are currently nine men on Utah’s death row who have yet to exhaust all of their appeals in state and federal court. They have averaged more than 23 years on death row. Two of the inmates have spent the last 31 years on death row. In addition to the debate whether the death penalty is humane, many lawmakers are questioning whether capital punishment is feasible. Members of the state legislature in Salt Lake City have mixed opinions. Paul Ray, a Republican from Clearfield, says he is for keeping the death penalty.
“I’m not sure we should be doing justice based on cost. We should be doing justice based on justice,” Ray said. “We’re not going to throw out the death penalty to save money.”
But some argue the better option is life without parole rather than the high costs of execution. Ray proposed a solution of shortening the appeals process. Others believe abolishing the death penalty altogether is the best option. Among those proponents is Kent Hart, executive director of the Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He contends the death penalty does nothing to deter crime. Not all victims are in favor of the death penalty.
Support Remains Strong in Utah
According to a survey conducted by the Dan Jones & Associates for the Salt Lake Tribune, nearly 71 percent of registered Utah voters are in favor of the state continuing to enforce capital punishment. Even more startling, that’s 10 percent more than the national average, according to a Gallup poll. Consequently, an attempt to repeal the death penalty in Utah failed last year. Due to its conservative and religious base, do not expect these laws to change anytime soon.
Why Your Choice of Criminal Defense Attorney Matters
Ask any Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney and they will tell you the challenges of repealing Utah’s death penalty laws. There are currently thousands of prisoners incarcerated in jails and prisons throughout the state. Unfortunately, far too many are innocent of committing any crimes. Many are the victim of poor criminal defense representation. Others were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The selection of a Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney can often make the difference between regaining or losing your freedom. For more than three decades, the legal professionals at the Law Offices of White & Mattern, PLLC take pride in protecting the rights of each client and looking after their best interests. These principles were installed by founder David Paul White and continue today. If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime, contact their Salt Lake City criminal defense firm and schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.