EDITORIAL: Salt Lake Tribune Says It's "Time to end the death penalty in Utah"

As Utah legislators renewed efforts to repeal the state's capital punishment statute, The Salt Lake Tribune editorialized that it is "[t]ime to end the death penalty in Utah." The Tribune editorial page wrote: "The conservatives who dominate the Utah Legislature are coming to realize — on their own, which is the only way to truly grasp an idea — that there is nothing conservative about capital punishment." The editorial noted that "the necessary safeguards and appeals that should always go along with the ultimate punishment are quite costly in terms of money, time and emotions," but found it even "more important [that] handing the state the power to end any human being’s life is not compatible with the idea that the government that governs best is the government that governs least." The paper wrote: "It has long been hard to understand that the same people who are often the most likely to object to the government’s claim that it can competently educate children, inspect automobiles or protect public lands are often comfortable with the idea that that same government is so infallible as to be empowered to put people to death." Referencing changed public perceptions of capital punishment, the editorial said that "[t]he death penalty is increasingly seen as a relic of a more barbaric time. ... 19 other states have done away with it. None of them has been burdened with an increase in violent crime as a result. ... There is no reason to believe that it has a significant deterrent effect or that it in any way makes life in our communities any safer." Advocating a maximum sentence of life without parole, the editorial said: "Putting a human being to death is, unavoidably, a gruesome and degrading affair that harms the decent public servants who are tasked with carrying it out, reopens the wounds of those whose loved ones were killed and creates a barbarically ugly circus atmosphere that a good conservative state like Utah should seek to avoid."

"Time to end the death penalty in Utah," The Salt Lake Tribune, February 15, 2018.