Group plans push to end the death penalty in Utah next year
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A group advocating for the end of Utah’s death penalty intends to make another push to abolish the practice next year following the failure of a similar effort in 2016.
Utah Justice Coalition, a criminal justice reform group, plans to push lawmakers to act during the 2018 legislative session, The Salt Lake Tribune reported .
Darcy Van Orden, the group’s executive director, said they already have a sponsor in the state Senate to back a bill on abolishing the death penalty, and they’re seeking a backer in the House. Van Orden discussed the matter with other criminal justice reform advocates during a panel at the University of Utah on Tuesday.
While lawmakers had considered studying the costs of the death penalty in 2016, a bill never reached the House floor
In 2012, Legislative fiscal analysts estimated that a death sentence costs an additional $1.6 million to handle appeals and the costs over 20 years when compared with a sentence of life without parole.
Joining Van Orden on the panel was a group of legal experts and justice advocates who cited concerns about the death penalty, ranging from the costs to the risk of executing someone who is innocent.
Ralph Dellapiana, director of Utahns for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, said for someone to face the death penalty, it often depends only on a prosecutor’s discretion.
“It’s like being struck by lightning,” Dellapiana said. “It depends on your ZIP code on what is the possibility (a case is) going to result in a death penalty.”
The last death penalty carried out in Utah was in 2010. Nine men are currently on death row in the state.
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com