Trent Nelson
The execution chamber at the Utah State Prison after Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed by firing squad in 2010.

A recent letter ("Cost of education," Readers' Forum, Jan. 4) complained of a case in Idaho where a man was executed after 24 years. The writer of the letter felt that the cost ($53,000) of the execution plus housing the man in prison was an unwarranted expense.

The time that it took was apparently necessary for a meticulous review of the case to ensure that due process was followed and that no mistakes were made. In recent decades in many states, including Utah, well over 200 convicts have been released, some spending decades in prison, awaiting execution, after discovering they were in fact innocent.

Have some innocent men been executed? Do executions deter crime? In the six months before Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed, there were 21 murders in Utah. In the six months after his execution, there were 26. Two murders took place on the day that he was executed.

The cost of housing prisoners cannot be avoided, though some, perhaps many of them would be willing to work to relieve the boredom and thus bear a part of the expense. Wouldn't it make more sense to abolish executions and put more money and efforts into solving cold cases and serving arrest warrants on the crime prone individuals who are currently "wanted" for felonies?

Wayne Overson