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Some legislative Republicans are pushing a bill that would abolish the death penalty in Utah. Our "Political Insiders" are mostly on board with that idea, but Republicans are divided.

HB379 bans the state from pursuing the death penalty after May of this year. It would not have any effect on the sentences of the nine men who currently are on Utah's death row.

The bill was approved by a committee last week and is awaiting debate by the full House.

The Republicans on our "Political Insider" panel are divided equally over whether the state should abolish the death penalty. 

The Democrats who answered and our readers are decidedly in favor of doing away with capital punishment. 86% of Democrats and 64% of our readers favor abolishing the death penalty.

 

Selected anonymous comments:

We seem to realize it is not a deterrent to crime and it costs taxpayers more to process al the appeals than to incarcerate a prisoner for life. It's time to make the smart policy decision on this one.

I don't think we use it enough. I think every child molester and rapist should be added to death row. 

We should be putting in a fast lane to the death penalty.

The state (government) should not be allowed to kill its citizens.

"Justice is equity. Justice is mercy. Justice is what the judge says it is." In the mix of all choices, there should continue to exist all choices. There come times when "equity" or an "eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" is the called for, extreme remedy. Without that remedy, we don't have the full measure of justice choices upon which to rely. There are circumstances and persons that dictate the necessity for the application of this absolute, extreme choice.

Only because the system doesn't work. There is perhaps a dozen on death row, and they are there for 20 to 30 years, and the families get dragged back to court all that time, and it costs millions of dollars.

What a bunch of fools trying to abolish this. Can't wait for the fliers to come out at caucus with a picture of Florida school shooter and GOP activists realize that these numbnuts don't think this demon deserves the death penalty.

There are some crimes that are so hideous that the death penalty is the only way to satisfy justice. In such cases where there is little question of guilt, I think we need to carry through the execution in a timely and humane manner.

The death penalty serves no valid public purpose. It is purely about revenge in this state and revenge is not good public policy. Prisoners who serve life without parole do not go on killing sprees in prison. The way to prevent killing in prison is to adequately staff and train prison guards and run an effective system. If Legislators are concerned about murders in prison, they should fund the almost 100 unfilled prison guard positions DOC currently faces.

Government gets it wrong too often for me to be comfortable with the death penalty. Furthermore, to be pro-life should mean to be pro-life at birth and at death. Democrats who oppose the death penalty but are pro-abortion are hypocrites. Republicans who support the death penalty but oppose abortion are hypocrites.

The judicial system is corrupt. The reason the death penalty is ineffective and so costly is that the courts have confined continued appeals for decades after conviction when there is no question about the guilt of the perpetrator. Death penalty appeals should be prioritized and limited to only issues that would question whether or not the individual committed the crime. Look at the criminals rotting on death row today. There is no question about their guilt.

Not just "keep it," but add a dozen more crimes (rape, robbery, drunk driving, etc.) to when it should be applied.

I'm torn on this issue, however; an individual who has committed a heinous crime should never be allowed to live in society ever again. Maybe being reminded of that crime day-after-day for the rest of that individual's life might even be a more severe consequence than ending their life abruptly by execution. Justice still needs to be served.

I'm OK with the death penalty as a concept. As applied, however, I can't get over the fact that the government will (sooner or later) make mistakes and execute innocents. I refuse to consider the question of how many guilty people we have to execute for each innocent one for the death penalty to be "worth it." Therefore, I choose to abolish.

The state should not be allowed to kill its citizens...oh wait, it already does by denying Medicaid expansion.

The state should not risk killing even one innocent person.

Abolishment makes economic sense.

The death penalty is archaic. Too many innocent people have been on death row. Let's end it now.

Keep it but fix it. No more endless appeals, and allow people to bid for the opportunity to kill the bast***s!

As a former supporter of capital punishment, I've concluded over the past ten years that capital punishment is not good policy. This is not because I am against abortion (which I am), It is not because I believe the government doesn't have the right to and cannot morally kill a person in certain, rather, extreme circumstances. Rather, there are two reasons. First, whatever level of deterrence we get from the death penalty is not worth the financial cost of putting an inmate to death (which far exceeds the cost of warehousing the individual for life in a secure lockdown facility). Second, the government simply cannot be trusted. Look how many mistaken prosecutions have been instituted over just the past several years. The system is prone to mistakes and abuse. This punishment, which cannot be reversed or cured, should not be put into the hands of fallible individuals.

We should keep the death penalty, but make it more efficient. There is no reason why a convicted murderer should be sitting on death row for twenty years or more. Death sentences should be carried out in five years or less.