Utah should end death penalty too

The State of Illinois just did away with the death penalty, an example Utah should follow for the most conservative of reasons: It’s too expensive and it’s not certain.

The story in the Washington Post (click) is interesting because it makes it clear that this is not only a bipartisan effort — a Democratic governor signed the bill but the policy was begun by a Republican — but the more intelligent, and cost effective, way to do it.

Illinois did away with the death penalty for humane reasons — too many on death row had been found innocent, the impossibility of being certain about a penalty that is certainly permanent, the inherent injustice of how cases are selected for prosecution as a death penalty case.

Weighed against those are the cries – understandable – of relatives of victims who want revenge, but revenge is not what justice is supposed to be about.

Cost? In Utah the average death penalty case costs $5 million or so. The one case Box Elder County is running is a major line item on the county annual budget. That’s your tax dollars at work, trying to kill someone.

People say “Why should we spend $35,000 a year feeding and clothing those guys and giving them medical care?” but if you do the math, $5 million costs more in the long run and, anyway, the food’s not that good, the clothes are prison-issue, the medical care is ditto, and the housing accomodations suck. Life Without Parole people get no benefits, not even a TV unless they pay for it.

So, yeah, they’re scum, mostly but on the chance, however small, that they’re innocent, we should not be killing them.

We shouldn’t be killing people anyway. That’s what killers do, and killers are not nice people.

Way to go Illinois. Utah should do the same.

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29 Responses to Utah should end death penalty too

  1. hawg says:

    it’s NOT certain???

    let’s see, gary gilmore, has hurt noone in 34 years
    joh taylor has hurt noone in 15 years
    neither of the high fi killers have hurt anyone since about 1992.
    nor bishop, a couple of others, and now gardiner have not hurt anyone since executed. NOT certain? that is 100% certain.

    life in prison? doesn’t really exist, there is escape, pardons (Illinois gov ryan did that, but i think that was because he was about to become a cell mate), changes of laws ect, and in prison you have killings. troy kell? algiers? even the now re-habilitated gardner ALL killed while in custody.

    might we possibly, one day kill an innocent? (innocent being pretty damn subjective here) possibly. have we? most likely, in past history.
    but most likely NOT since furhman. hasn’t been proven yet, so we are doing better. DNA? it’s good “put you there” evidence but it’s not that good of exculpatory evidence, raises doubt maybe, and that’s what the system runs on so then go with it.

    pretty much every argument against the death penalty is not really an against the death penalty. it’s against the system that got you there. that’s is where it needs to be fixed. it’s the conviction, NOT the punishment that may possibly be “wrong”.

    and before everyone jumps on the “innocent” executed band wagon, ask yourself, is it worse to be executed when innocent or be caged until you die of old age when innocent. because if it is possible to execute an “innocent” it is equally possible to cage one until death of old age. don’t fool yourself, there is not middle ground on that issue.

    cost? 30 years of appeals doesn’t help there. and should cost be an issue when doing the right thing? and don’t think for a nannosecond that all these years of appeals (read cost) won’t automatically jump to LWOP when DP is gone.

    but effectiveness? DP is 100%

    we shouldn’t do away with it, we should use it more often.

    • Bob Becker says:

      H: You wrote “and before everyone jumps on the “innocent” executed band wagon, ask yourself, is it worse to be executed when innocent or be caged until you die of old age when innocent.”

      According to that logic, H, if your goal is to punish convicted murderers for the crimes they’ve been convicted of, it would make more sense to sentence them to life without parole, because you say they’d suffer more than by being executed.

      As for the innocently convicted: if you’re alive, there is hope evidence can/will be found [DNA or other] that will exonerate you and you will have the remainder of your life free. Can’t happen if you’ve already been executed. Somehow “Ooops! Sorry!” doesn’t seem an adequate remedy when the state in the name of the people have executed someone for a crime he or she didn’t commit.

      • hawg says:

        oops, sorry Bob, I forgot to hit on one of your points.

        I don’t necessarily consider execution as punishment to criminals first and foremost, but rather for 100% deterrence from future killings, for societies sake. LWOP just does not offer that.

        and I also don’t think criminals consider LWOP as worse punishment, that’s why you see them trying to get their DP sentence changed to LWOP but you don’t see them saying “hey prison life sucks, just do me and get it over with”. (John Taylor notwithstanding)

        • Ava DaCosta says:

          Correct me if I misunderstood please. You don’t see DP as punishment but more as a deterrent to protect society from killers? I agree with the ideology. However, I must ask… don’t you think prisons are part of our society too?

          Killers may be segregated from the general populace, but continue to kill within their limited population….therefore it’s NOT a deterrent to them! As far as I’m concerned, anyone who kills another person, in the process of breaking the law, should expect his/her existence to experience the same action dished out. Forget LWOP… it’s an humongous drain on the GNP that would be better used to diminsh our national debt.

      • hawg says:

        Bob, one quick correction, I didn’t say “they” would suffer more in prison. I’m not interested in their suffering, I’m interested in their wasting our air and continued threat

      • Ava DaCosta says:

        You’re right Bob. LWOP provides more suffering… but not for the imprisoned, rather for the family of victims.

  2. Erick says:

    This is a tough call, but ultimately I agree with Hawg, the problem isn’t the sentence – it’s the system. Furthermore, I disagree with the assertion that social justice, even capital punishment, is on par with murder. One of the biggest problems with the legal system is not just the cost, but the time. “Speedy” trials for serious crimes, just don’t happen. Brian David Mitchell is a case study here. I’m not an attorney, nor do I have any real experience with how the legal system works, but from an outsiders perspective it appears quite inefficient in terms of cost, and just as importantly, in administering justice. Long story short, keep the death penalty, fix the system.

  3. hawg says:

    nope, ooops sorry isn’t going to cut it.
    ooops, sorry you died in prison waiting for your innocence to be proven doesn’t cut it either.
    and here is the best, ooops sorry we let a convicted killer out to go on and become a serial killer, doesn’t cut it for those family members either.

    it’s a human system, it will always have human errors. do the best we can with investigation, prosecution, conviction and rest easy that gilmore and company will never kill again.

  4. Charles Trentelman says:

    hawg is right, it is the system, and the action in Illinois is recognition of the simple fact that, despite more than 100 years of trying by some of the sharpest minds in the country, we have not been able to come up with a system that can be certain — 100 percent certain — that we’re killing the right guy.

    Faced with that, it is best not to.

    Hawg says life without parole is not a deterrant because prisoners seek it over the death penalty — everyone, pretty much, would rather live than die, this is true, but what sort of life? The hell that is life without parole is not fun, and not glamorous, while taking a chance on death might even appeal to some warped minds.

    But the truth is, people committing crimes rarely think of the consequences — or if they do, they decide the chance is worth it — either way, considering the number of murders in this nation, and the numbers of people on death row, I would have to say it’s not working very well as a deterrant, and if revenge is what you want, sentencing them to a life in a 6-foot cell strikes me as worse and, therefore, more satisfying.

    • hawg says:

      no law deters another. that’s why we still have speeders and murderers. execution does indeed deter the main person in question.

      but you did hit upon the only possible alternative I’ll go with.
      solitary confinement, NEVER again to see the light of day, never again to interact with any human being not even guards, push their food through a hole in the door and you must actually die in prison. that might be effective, although as stated the thug huggers would scream cruelty and charge the state billions on superfulous appealls.

      • Charles Trentelman says:

        thug huggers?

        but people are treated that way now in federal max prisons and nobody is objecting.
        and life without parole gives them one hour a day outside their cell.

        so, u have what you want already. Wasn’t that easy?

        • hawg says:

          well not exactly, it still doesn’t carry the garauntee of no future killing that the death penalty does. and how many are actually in fed max?
          I still think why you may not hear much about it, is that the focus on death penalty. when DP is gone, and I think it will go, all of the exact same focus, the exact same arguments against DP will be turned to any LWOP sentence.

          and what’s wrong with the term thug hugger?

      • Ava DaCosta says:

        Hawg, haven’t read any further comments than this one, but it seems to me there is some doubt in your own beliefs.

    • Ava DaCosta says:

      When your wife, daughter or son has their last breath cut short by some maniac, you can preach to the multitudes all you want. Somehow, I doubt you’d be preaching the same story!

  5. Heather says:

    Hawg, you’re kind of missing the point. We’ve been killing a lot of innocent people via the Death Penalty. We can’t be certain that the people on death row are guilty. If we give them LWOP instead, then if they are later proven innocent, we can let them go. (which still wouldn’t give them back what they’d lost by being in prison)
    So, if you’re willing to kill innocent people just to make sure that the guilty get what they deserve, that makes you a killer of innocents, too. Our system is flawed, but how do we make sure that only guilty people get convicted and still give a fair trial to everyone?
    I admire your passion and I have no sympathy for killers, but I do have sympathy for people are falsely accused.

    • hawg says:

      no, Heather, you’ve missed the point. since furhman, name one (1) proven “innocent” executed person. (actually, you need to first define “innocent”. some people actually consider the guy that held the victim down while somebody else stabbed him to death is “innocent” because he didn’t actually stab him.) I know, hard to believe but they exist

      and apparently you find caging an “innocent” until he dies is morally superior or more palatable? (because maybe, just maybe his innocence isn’t proven before he dies) just as realisticly possible as executing an “innocent”, don’t fool yourself

      I don’t want to kill innocents, I just don’t consider the RISK of such to be any more repugnant than releasing convicted killers to continue killing even to the degree of serial.(arthur shawcross, ed kemper, william suff ect)

      you can never be 100% sure. it is unattainable. a system that requires 100% assurity will collapse, and no justice ever attained, and therefore is not desirable.

      you want to worry about innocents, then don’t CONVICT innocents, you want to ensure absolutley no future killings from said killers, then you have only one choice that is 100% effective. simple really.

  6. Heather says:

    What do you mean by “since Fuhrman”? Are you talking about Mark Fuhrman of OJ trial fame? Are you saying that nobody gets wrongfully convicted since then? What’s changed, exactly, “since Fuhrman”?
    And what about the cost? It costs a lot more to execute than LWOP, which is the other point Charles was making. Why should we spend millions of dollars just to make an example of them, an example that criminals do not heed? If you’re going to use the fact that they could kill again as your argument, then yes, tighter security could stop that rather than the death penalty. Murderers usually sit on death row for decades before they are executed anyway, so the DP isn’t really keeping them from murdering anyone ever again.

    • just someone says:

      i do not commit murder simply because i do not want to be executed myself.

      good enough deterrant for ya heather?

      • Heather says:

        Really? You’d murder people if you weren’t worried about the death penalty? If that’s the only thing stopping you, I pray you don’t move to a state that doesn’t have the death penalty.
        Personally, I don’t commit murder because I think it is wrong.

        • some guy says:

          yep….im more concerned with the short term consequenses than the long. i dont want to spend either life behind bars nor a needle in the arm. and trust me heather……..there are millions who think the very same thing. you dont think my morals have anything to do with it do you? you arent possibly THAT naive are you heather? so in my opinion…i think it works both as a deterrant and a punishment all wrapped into one little beautiful bow. and its called “justice”, not “killing”, “murder”, or any other kind of spin you all put on it.

          • Heather says:

            Criminals are not deterred by the possible punishments, because they don’t believe they are going to get caught. They think they are smarter than the system. So no, I don’t think the death penalty is stopping many murderers.
            And I don’t consider executing them to be murder. The fact is, we do wrongfully convict people, and that means we have executed innocent people. Is that justice?

    • hawg says:

      i’m sorry Heather for the confusion. Furman is Furman vs Georgia, a ’72 case that effectivly banned the death penalty. it was then re-instated four years later and Utah became the first to step up to the plate and re-opened the way to 100% effective deterence with gilmore.

      I did not say nobody gets wrongfully convicted. I said since furman you can’t prove an innocent has been executed. and I say since furman, because surely we can find something in history where an innocent was executed, but since then furman I do not believe so. so again, if there is a problem it may be the conviction, fix it there.

      the cost? a standard anti-DP dodge. it only costs more because we screw around for 30 years of appeals. give them 2 maybe even 3 three appeals, within a couple of years, then be done with it. now be honest here, if executions were carried out in a timely fashion costs would go down, if DP became cheaper than LWOP would you then support DP? no, you wouldn’t, so cost is really NOT your concern here.
      again, unending appeals, being part of the process, may well be part of the problem, not the sentence.

      death row and death penalty are not the same. death row is simply incarceration and would not prevent a jail house killing, true, penalty is the actual execution and would/has prevent any and all future killings.

      • Michael Trujillo says:

        A lot of people on Death Row have been exonerated “since Furman”. See here:


        It is easy to extrapolate, given the number of actual executions, that there’s a very good possibility that an innocent person’s been executed.

        • hawg says:

          yeah, I’m aware of the exonerations.
          not necessarily the same as “factual innocence”, but rather reasonable doubt, no longer held responsible or in simpler terms “charges dropped”. and quite often the reasons are determined to be a problem with the handling of something, a problem with the process that led to conviction. so fix the conviction not the punishment.
          those that were possibly innocent shows that the system must be working.

          be aware that virtually all articles on exoneration never tell you the original evidence, only that they are now exonerated. there was something there, they didn’t just pull them off the street and hang ‘em. but they’d rather you didn’t assess that information. sometimes it’s new science that wasn’t available previously. even that doesn’t necessarily prove innocence but rahter raises reasonable doubt, which is the standard.

          and just as exoneration is not proof of innocence, extrapolation is not proof of a wrongful execution. anything is possible, so when you have that proof we can discuss that avenue.

          and again, I’m not saying the wrong person has never been executed, I’m saying in today’s climate of endless appeals and reviews it is extemely unlikley. so therefore the risk doesn’t yet outweigh the benefits.

          no extrapolation is required to show convicted, unexecuted killers have been released and killed again.

    • Ava DaCosta says:

      Heather, you’ve obviously never been in jail, otherwise you wouldn’t say such a stupid thing. The act of intentionally killing someone else indicates you have no value for another person’s life above your own. Being segregated doesn’t change that fact. Go be the caretaker for people under the DP for 6 months, then come back and give us your wiewpoint.

  7. Sara says:

    Climate change IS real. Has been for billions of years. Heard of the Ice Age? Man didn’t cause it. And when the ice retreated? Not our fault either. And after we are all long gone? Yep, climate will still change. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow. The fact that we are here now, and the climate is STILL changing, does not make it our doing. Since there is no way to prove that what is happening AT THIS TIME wouldn’t be happening if man were not here, you can’t blame us. Computer models are flawed, the science is inexact, and there are political motivations that have tainted the results. Please, open your eyes to the TRUE science of natural, cyclical climate change. And, adapt accordingly to survive.

  8. ZENOS says:

    Good Essay Charles;

    Us Mormons’ have been driven more and more West, with some
    Militia at it’s backing, more then any other population.
    Governor Boggs set out the proclaimation {Circa’ 1839} to either
    “Drive them out and/ore exterminate”. {LDS Church History}.

    Though Boggs is 6 feet underground, I dare not put words in
    his mouth, Thought I will offer my translation on the matter:

    “Plowshare those “Jack & Jill” Mormons out of the territory of
    Illinois”. Frankly put, there rifle and “pistol-packing” ways are
    always a deterent in [New Borne Cults]; and alway a vexation to
    the spirit. Ongoing non-members are greatly annoined.
    I could just phathom the state of affairs.

    [Morons'] are right at home; Yet>>> “Ill” and heareing “nois.”
    I don’t hear “Noise”, but I shore hope your hearing mine!.

    Source material:
    “Legacy” Motion Pictures
    Hosted by President Gordon Bitner Hincley

  9. Ava DaCosta says:

    Heather, we start by carrying out the death sentence for admitted/established killers within a week or two after sentence. Saves a lot of tax money.

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