Victims, lawmakers discuss personal, financial costs of death penalty

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  • Fern RL LAYTON, UT
    Nov. 16, 2012 12:43 p.m.

    It would really be nice to eliminate murder altogether. Can that be done?

    If the death penalty is eliminated, does that mean those who are imprisoned for life without parole will be less likely to prove they didn't do it, having less chance of appeals, etc.? "Justice" will be less just.

  • hermounts Pleasanton, CA
    Nov. 15, 2012 5:14 p.m.

    The "cost" argument against the death penalty is circular, since it is death penalty opponents themselves who run up the cost with largely specious appeals. They should be limited to appearing before any one court only once, unless there is actual new evidence discovered--as opposed to merely a new interpretation of old evidence.

  • Butch70 Spokane, WA
    Nov. 15, 2012 11:39 a.m.

    You take a life. You forfit your life.It is to bad they do not execute them like the old days without appeals.

  • Charlemagne Salt Lake City, Utah
    Nov. 15, 2012 10:58 a.m.

    There may be a question about whether the death penalty is a general deterrent (i.e. deters potential murderers) or not but there is absolutely no question that it is a total specific deterrent (i.e. deters convicted killers from murdering again). We know for certain that Ted Bundy, Ronnie Lee Gardner and the Hi Fi Murderers will never commit another murder!
    I certainly believe in being careful about the use of this most serious of all criminal penalties but once it is certain you have the right person there is reason not to use the death penalty in the right cases!

  • George Bronx, NY
    Nov. 15, 2012 10:13 a.m.

    Despite the overwhelming evidence that the system sometimes gets it wrong you are willing to take the chance that Utah will not get it wrong because no cases have yet come to light that the utah system has made a mistake? Given the evidence of the fact our system is fallible how likely do you really think it is that Utah has never executed an innocent man considering how relatively recently and limited ins scope that this testing has been available? I for one would much rather the Lawyers go on then risk killing an innocent person.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Nov. 15, 2012 9:06 a.m.

    VIDAR, no one on Utah's death row has been exonerated by DNA and there is no question that any of them are guilty as charged and convicted.

    The problem is with the courts. Dragging it out for 20 or 25 years. That is not justice. Texas seems to get it done much faster. The legislature ought to consider putting some appeal road blocks to expedite. Such as immediate appeal to the Utah Supreme Court with a time frame that the appeal has to be filed, heard, and decided in. Then one appeal only to the Federal District Court, only 1 to the Circuit Court, and 1 to the Supreme Court.

    Lawyers can keep appealing on about any pretense. Limit the scope of what they can appeal on and make the law so that if they don't bring up a certain point in the original appeal, a new point can't be used to appeal further.

  • VIDAR Murray, UT
    Nov. 15, 2012 8:53 a.m.

    Two more for those who believe in quick executions:

    next is a list of those actually executed; who were later found to be innocent:

    Maybe we can also get into how racially biased the death penality is.

    Kennedy Brewer, an Innocence Project client, served 15 years behind bars – including seven years on death row – for a murder and sexual assault he didn’t commit before DNA testing from 2001 finally led to his exoneration in 2008.

    Damon Thibodeaux spent 15 years on death row in Louisiana before he was exonerated in 2012. A prosecution expert who aided in the reinvestigation of his case concluded that the threat of the death penalty contributed to why he falsely confessed to the murder of his cousin.

  • VIDAR Murray, UT
    Nov. 15, 2012 8:50 a.m.

    Ray Krone served a decade in Arizona prison – including four years on death row – for a murder and rape he didn’t commit before DNA testing proved his innocence in 2002.

    Nicholas Yarris served more than 21 years on Pennsylvania’s death row before DNA testing proved his innocence and led to his release in 2003.

    Ryan Matthews served five years on Louisiana’s death row for a murder he didn’t commit before he was exonerated by DNA testing in 2004. His co-defendant, Travis Hayes, was sentenced to life in prison and served eight years before he was cleared in 2007.

    Curtis McCarty served 21 years in Oklahoma prison – including nearly 18 years on death row – for a murder he didn’t commit before DNA tests secured by the Innocence Project led to his exoneration in 2007. He was convicted twice and sentenced to death three times based on forensic misconduct

    Michael Blair served 13 years on death row for a murder he didn’t commit before DNA testing obtained by his lawyers at the Innocence Project proved his innocence and led to his exoneration in 2008.

  • VIDAR Murray, UT
    Nov. 15, 2012 8:49 a.m.

    Robert Miller spent nine years on Oklahoma’s death row for a murder and rape he didn’t commit before he was cleared by DNA testing in 1998.

    Ronald Jones, an Innocence Project client, served a decade on Illinois death row for a murder and rape he didn’t commit before DNA testing proved his innocence and led to his release in 1999.

    Earl Washington, a Virginia man with limited mental capacity, was sentenced to death after he allegedly confessed to committing a 1982 murder he didn’t commit. He served a decade on death row, once coming within nine days of execution before receiving a stay. He would serve a total of 17 years behind bars before DNA testing obtained by the Innocence Project cleared him in 2000.

    Frank Lee Smith died of cancer on Florida’s death row after serving 14 years for a murder and rape he didn’t

    Charles Irvin Fain served more than 17 years on death row in Idaho for a murder and rape he didn’t commit before DNA testing proved his innocence in 2001.

  • VIDAR Murray, UT
    Nov. 15, 2012 8:46 a.m.

    Kirk Bloodsworth served eight years in Maryland prison – including two years on death row – for a murder and rape he didn’t commit, before he was exonerated in 1993.

    Rolando Cruz, and his co-defendant Alejandro Hernandez, served more than 10 years on Illinois death row for a murder they didn’t commit before DNA testing proved both men innocent in 1995.

    Verneal Jimerson and Dennis Williams were sentenced to death in the infamous Ford Heights Four case in Illinois for a pair of 1978 murders they didn’t commit. Jimerson was cleared in 1995 after a decade on death row and Williams served more than 17 years on death row before he was freed in 1996.

    Ron Williamson spent a decade on Oklahoma’s death row for a murder he didn’t commit before DNA testing secured by the Innocence Project proved him innocent in 1999. His co-defendant, Dennis Fritz, was sentenced to life and spent 11 years in prison before DNA cleared him as well.

  • TiCon2 Cedar City, UT
    Nov. 15, 2012 8:33 a.m.

    Honestly, the death penalty is completely ineffective for the reasons listed above. 20 plus years from incarceration to death??? What criminal is going to stop and think: "Well, if I pull the trigger now, I MIGHT die for this in 20 years..."

    It's ineffective at dissuasion and ineffective when talking about costs.

    Nov. 15, 2012 7:10 a.m.

    In agreement with JSB. I know that the article focused on the costs of capital punishment. I look at this from the perspective of one who has sat on a jury through verdict for two criminal trials. Neither was a capital case - coincidentally, both were for sexual assault. We convicted in one, and acquitted in the other. The frustrating thing in both was the type of information we'd have loved to have, but did not have access to due to rules of evidence. I couldn't imagine, given the rules, coming to a conclusion with such certainty that I coulkd stake another person's life on my certainty. And I just can't get out of my head that the state of Illinois, during one stretch of time, executed 12 inmates from death row, and exonerated 13, not by legal technicalities but because of solid DNA evidence. I just can't be sure enough.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Nov. 15, 2012 6:32 a.m.

    All murders are terrible, but some are SO terrible that they deserve the death penalty and anything less really isn't justice. Rather than get rid of or make less use of the death penalty, can't we stream line the process in a way that doesn't increase the chances of making a mistake.

    I saw parts of the OJ trial, and one thing that sticks out is that it was terribly inefficient and un-necessarily slow. I am quite certain that an efficiency expert's study could point out numerious ways we could improve our legal system. Like our medical system, it seems to have gotten bogged down.

  • Go Utes! Springville, UT
    Nov. 15, 2012 6:27 a.m.

    I think we should just expedite the system. why keep them in jail for 25 years?

  • My2Cents Taylorsville, UT
    Nov. 15, 2012 4:29 a.m.

    Since when is death cost relevant to incarceration? The cost of putting people to death is an already established and budgeted built in to the system and not an unexpected cost. The prisons are prepaid for their services and operating costs and putting people to death and if they can't keep their budget in line then we have a problem in the prisons management.

    What does personal financial cost have to do with the death penalty? It's an irrelevant issue. We do waste too much money pampering prisoners with drugs and weapons and warring prisoners and needs more restrictions to control prison populations. Thees people are in prison for committing crimes which they have accepted and they don't deserve leniency or sympathy. Appeals are too many and profitable for ambulance chasing lawyers who are in it for the money, with very few exceptions.

    Cost of prison has no right to request more money to pamper the prisoners or the workers claiming over work and underpaid employment. The economy is too unsettled and mixed for any government agency to expect increassed funding or pork fat. Porky the pig was slaughtered 45 years ago with NAFTA.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    Nov. 14, 2012 9:28 p.m.

    There is no good solution to this problem. But, it seems to me that, given the fallibility and weaknesses of our justice system, the best solution is life sentence with no opportunity for parole.

  • higv Dietrich, ID
    Nov. 14, 2012 7:08 p.m.

    You cannot be tried twice for same crime. But why should inmates be granted appeal after appeal after appeal with "new evidence" Death is cheaper than years of food. And no one put to death will kill again. Many people kill guards and other inmates and Ted Bundy escaped kiledl again.

    As for innocents, People get killed in cars and industrial accidents lets stop them. Thing is by not taking a murderers life you are saying that his victim deserves to die why he doesn't. And many innocent people are killed do to there not being a death penalty.