To: Scott Sandall, David Lifferth, Jack Draxler, Edward Redd, Curt Webb, Jacob Anderegg, Justin Fawson, Gage Froerer, Jeremy Peterson, Dixon Pitcher, Brad Dee, Mike Schultz, Paul Ray, Curtis Oda, Brad Wilson, Steve Handy, Stewart Barlow, Timothy D. Hawkes, Raymond Ward, Becky Edwards, Doug Sagers, Mike Kennedy, Lee Perry, Fred Cox, Sophia DiCaro, LaVar Christensen, Craig Hall, Johnny Anderson, Eric Hutchings, Jim Dunnigan, Daniel McCay, Kim Coleman, Earl Tanner, Bruce Cutler, Steve Eliason, Ken Ivory, Keven John Stratton, Robert Spendlove, Richard Cunningham, Greg Hughes, John Knotwell, Melvin Brown, Kraig Powell, Scott H. Chew, Kay Christofferson, Brian Greene, Derrin Owens, Val Peterson, Bradley Daw, Keith Grover, Jon Stanard, Dean Sanpei, Norm Thurston, Francis Gibson, Michael McKell, Marc Roberts, Merrill Nelson, Kay Mciff, Brad Last, John Westwood, mnoel, Lowry Snow, Don Ipson, Susan Duckworth, Sandra Hollins, Rebecca Houck, Joel Briscoe, Angela Romero, Brian King, Mark A. Wheatley, Patrice Arent, Carol Moss, Lynn Hemingway, Marie Poulson, Brad King,
Subject: Senate Bill 189
Date: Thu Mar 10 17:44:30 MST 2016
Thank you for your consideration of Senate Bill 189.
The death penalty is an important issue that should be debated and where interested individuals, families, and groups should be given the opportunity to give input. Other than the one hour hearing Wednesday night in the house subcommittee, this has not occurred. We are concerned that this bill has been rushed through this session with no real vetting with victims, law enforcement or other interested groups. On an issue this important, this is not fair to victims, the public, or the legislators who ultimately will have to make a difficult decision.
The Utah Council on Victims of Crime opposes SB 189 for the following reasons:
1. Victim's family are generally in favor of the death penalty, otherwise the state doesn't ask for it. That is generally true even after explaining the length of appeals.
2. Very few death penalties are handed down (9 on death row), but in cases where there is compelling and conclusive evidence that a defendant committed a crime, having the option of the death penalty is a good option for victims. In these cases the death penalty can be sought or be taken off the table for a less severe, but more expedient conclusion to a case in which a defendant pleads guilty to murder and agrees to a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.
3. The financial analysis of the death penalty vs. life without parole (LWOP) has shown that LWOP convictions overall can cost the State more than death penalty convictions.
4. LWOP does not guarantee that the offender will not kill again. We have two people on death row who have murdered another person (that is 22% of our death row inmates). The death penalty is especially needed in these cases to deter continued killing.
5. Some offenses are so heinous that they call out for the death penalty to be imposed. The appeals are exhaustive and the State has not put to death any innocent defendants. We don't have any innocent people waiting for the death penalty in Utah -- they are guilty of capital homicide.
6. Victims of murder in Utah desire the death penalty to remain in place as an option for the most horrific murders committed.
I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.
James M. Swink
Utah Council on Victims of Crime, Chair