Policy Analysis

The High Price of Retribution: A Case for Repealing the Death Penalty

January 8, 2016  |  Posted in:  |  No comments

In 2015, the Utah Legislature reauthorized the use of the firing squad as a form of capital punishment. Unfortunately, the debate never addressed the acceptability of the death penalty itself, despite lengthy consideration by the legislature of a comprehensive package of criminal justice reforms during the same time.

This missed opportunity can be corrected. The legislature should consider abandoning the use of capital punishment in favor of life without parole.

While the death penalty might appeal to our emotional appetite for justice—or revenge—the reality is that it is not justly administered, the risk of executing an innocent is too high, and it does not serve victims very well.

Given the low value and high cost of the death penalty, capital punishment does not give taxpayers much bang for the buck. Instead it has become a bloated and bureaucratic policy that blindly seeks retribution despite a significant moral, social, and financial cost.

Income Tax Credit for Home-schooling Families

January 15, 2015  |  Posted in: 2015 Bills, Policy Analysis  |  19 comments

To track the status of this bill, find it on our Legislation Tracker.
Click here to contact the sponsor of the bill to share your thoughts, or
click here to email your Senator and Representative about it.

Libertas Institute supports this bill.

Below is the executive summary for our policy analysis released last year, “Income Tax Credit for Home-schooling Families.” To read the entire report, click here. The resulting legislation is House Bill 134.

The Utah Constitution requires 100% of the state income tax to be used as revenue for government education services—“public” and “higher” education.

Families who choose to educate their children outside of this taxpayer-funded system must therefore pay for the education of others’ children before their own. Curriculum, learning kits, field trips, travel costs, and other necessary expenses are post-tax costs. The state, by imposing an income tax, requires these families to financially prioritize the education of other children first.

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SB185: Law Enforcement Transparency

February 13, 2014  |  Posted in: 2014 Bills, Policy Analysis  |  4 comments

To track the status of this bill, find it on our Legislation Tracker.
Click here to contact the sponsor of the bill to share your thoughts, or
click here to email your Senator and Representative about it.

Libertas Institute supports this bill.

Below is the introduction of our newly released policy analysis, “Law Enforcement Transparency.” To read the entire report, click here. The resulting legislation is Senate Bill 185.

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Strengthening Judicial Oversight of Forcible Entry Warrants

January 22, 2014  |  Posted in: Policy Analysis  |  12 comments

To track the status of this bill, find it on our Legislation Tracker.
Click here to contact the sponsor of the bill to share your thoughts, or
click here to email your Senator and Representative about it.

Libertas Institute supports this bill.

Below is the executive summary for our newly released policy analysis, “Police Warrant Reform.” To read the entire report, click here. The resulting legislation is House Bill 70.

According to one estimate, roughly 40,000 SWAT or tactical raids are conducted around the country each year—over 100 per day. In most cases, officers detain the suspects and seize the desired evidence without harm to themselves or those present in the home they entered. But in too many cases, something goes wrong and somebody—in many cases an innocent person—gets hurt, or worse, killed. Utah is not an exception to this trend.

This violent enforcement of the law, primarily relating to drug enforcement, suggests a weakening—if not abandonment—of the restraint that the American legal system was designed to ensure when dealing with warrants.

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A Rebuttal to the Attorney General’s Office on Asset Forfeiture

January 8, 2014  |  Posted in: Policy Analysis  |  5 comments

In reaction to our policy analysis highlighting several controversial changes made to forfeiture law in Utah, the Attorney General’s office has issued a response effectively arguing that we are making a big deal out of nothing. They are wrong, as this rebuttal will make clear.

Below we include their statements in whole and provide a rebuttal to each.

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Utah Legislature Unanimously and Unknowingly Gutted a 2000 Citizen Initiative

December 17, 2013  |  Posted in: Policy Analysis  |  13 comments

Below is the executive summary for our newly released policy analysis, “Asset Forfeiture in Utah.” To read the entire report, click here.

A 2000 citizen initiative that passed by 69% of the vote in Utah introduced substantial restrictions on asset forfeiture—the process whereby the government seizes a citizen’s property—but several key provisions were overturned unanimously by the legislature in 2013 after lawmakers were told that the bill was a simple “re-codification.”

The initiative was created in large measure to prevent law enforcement agencies from directly profiting from the property they seized, as this financial opportunity created an incentive to seize property. The legislature amended the law in 2004 introducing some minor changes, including allowing proceeds from seized property to be funneled back to the agencies through the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice instead of being deposited in the Uniform School Fund.

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