NEW VOICES: Growing Concerns in Utah About High Cost of the Death Penalty

Legislators and other officials in Utah are expressing concerns about the high costs of the death penalty and its lack of deterrent effect. Speaking before the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee, Republican State Representative Steve Handy (pictured) said, “In today’s world, the death penalty is so infrequently used that I don’t believe it is any kind of a deterrent.” The Davis County prosecutor, Troy Rawlings, a proponent of the death penalty, nevertheless agreed that replacing the death penalty with life without parole “would remove some of the significant complications of cases and expedite them, as well as save money.” According to legislative fiscal analyst Gary R. Syphus, it costs county governments $460,000 annually to defend and prosecute a capital murder case. The Law Enforcement Committee has ranked the death penalty the number one policy issue to study this year, and a committee at the University of Utah is also researching the costs of death penalty cases in the state.

(L. Park, “Lawmaker says cost of carrying out death penalty may not justify it in Utah,” Standard-Examiner, August 16, 2012). See Costs and Utah. See also New Voices. Listen to DPIC’s podcast on Costs.