Policy Analysis

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


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.

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