About the Video

Freedom-minded individuals have strong reason to be skeptical of the government’s power to execute people.

Libertas Institute Policy Brief

In 2015, the Utah Legislature reauthorized the use of the firing squad for capital punishment. Unfortunately, the debate never addressed the acceptability of the death penalty itself.

This missed opportunity can be corrected. The legislature should consider abandoning the use of capital punishment in favor of life without parole.

Featured Interviews

Debra Brown:

“Driving to the [prison] itself and seeing all these gates open up, yeah then it starts setting in, this is for real. I am never, ever gonna get out of here.”

Debra Brown
Wrongful Conviction Victim

Jensie Anderson:

“So many of these folks who have come off death row, who have been exonerated from crimes that they didn’t commit, are just people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. And I think it’s really important for people to understand that that’s the kind of people who go to prison wrongfully and that it can be anybody.”

Jensie Anderson
Rocky Mountain Innocence Center

Kent Hart:

“We as a society, whether it’s morally or religiously or a matter of personal conviction, whatever it might be, I think we can do things better than saying we’re going to kill someone.”

Kent Hart
Utah Assoc. of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Robert Dunham:

“There have been 1400 people executed in the United States since the death penalty was restored in the 1970’s. There have been 156 that have been exonerated. That means for every 9 executions, there is an innocent person who has been sent to death row that we know about.”

Robert Dunham
Death Penalty Information Center

Marina Lowe:

“When we know that there are problems in the criminal justice system, it is very difficult to have a punishment out there that is the ultimate punishment that cannot be undone.”

Marina Lowe

Why Repeal the Death Penalty?

The Risk to Innocents

Because of prosecutorial misconduct, human fallibility, false testimony, and other problems in the criminal justice system, innocent people are executed before they can later be exonerated.

It's Too Costly

Filing a death penalty case incurs significant taxpayer expenses. One study showed that Utah spends over $1.6 million more per death penalty case than alternative punishments.

It's Not a Deterrent

Murder rates in death penalty states are consistently higher than in states without the death penalty; capital punishment does not discourage criminals from committing heinous acts.


News coverage of each appeal in a lengthy process to terminate a criminal’s life constantly re-opens wounds that need to close and heal, harming families of victims who need closure.

Ineffective Approach

A recent nationwide poll of 500 police chiefs revealed that the death penalty is at the bottom of the list when it comes to what constitutes wise and effective spending to fight crime.

Is It About Retribution?

A strong desire to punish criminals is understandable, but when the punishment is costly, ineffective, and irreversible, the desire borders on retribution, not fair and prudent justice.