SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - Is it cost effective for Utah to execute prisoners on death row?
This was the hot topic debated Wednesday by state legislators on capitol hill.
Killer Ron Lafferty, for example, got the death sentence in 1985.
27 years later, he still has not been executed.
In fact, there are now 8 men on Utah's death row.
More than half of them have been there for more than 2 decades.
So, ABC 4 asked Representative Stephen Handy how much that costs the state.
He told us,
"We don't know that. We don't know what it costs. We don't know. And I think the taxpayer ought to know what that does cost."
Wednesday, it quickly became apparent that the exact cost of a state execution is hard to come by.
Except to say - it's not cheap.
Patrick Anderson of Salt Lake’s Legal Defenders Association told a legislative committee Wednesday,
"The capital cases were .008% of my total case load but, yet, it was probably 10% of my budget."
Now, according to the best numbers ABC 4 could come up with, it costs the state approximately $750,000 dollars more to execute someone than to have them serve life without parole.
Marina Lowe of the ACLU told that same legislative committee,
"A lot of other states have undertaken this very same topic in terms of study and have found a significant difference in cost between the death penalty and life without parole."
But, adds Representative Handy, that does not mean the death penalty in Utah is about to be killed,
“I am not contemplating any legislation to repeal the death penalty. I'd like to say that. I am not thinking about that at all. I simply wanted to have a cost discussion."
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