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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Ely: The Death Penalty Hurts Us All

“Thou shalt not kill” is a term rooted in Christianity and we live in a state with strong religious influence indicating murder is one of the greatest sins, yet the death penalty is upheld.
Mary Allen
(Design by Mary Allen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


“The Death Penalty Kills People” is a bold statement to see on a t-shirt. This statement — recently updated from “The Death Penalty Kills Innocent People” — is one way the younger generation is making their thoughts on the death penalty clear. While it may seem an obvious assertion, the ramifications of the death penalty are often ignored in our country.

The moral dilemma that stands in front of us is both contradictory and hypocritical. Our justice system justifies taking a life for a life, focusing on punishment and harm rather than rehabilitation and empathy. No statistic or number of lives taken in the form of capital punishment will ever be justified and accepted.

We must end the gratuitous nature of the death penalty. Education and advocacy are the first steps in becoming aware of this deplorable problem that has proliferated in our local and national justice systems.

Across the U.S.

The ethical quandary that is at the forefront of this reality in America is undesirable. Utah is one of 24 states that still have death penalty laws. Twenty-three states have abolished it and three states have put the law on temporary hold.

Execution comes in different forms depending on the state, some more severe than others. The forms of execution allowed in Utah are lethal injection and firing squad. Each case has a different outcome, and many trials take years on end before finding a final verdict, with some convicts never knowing which day will be their last.

Coming from a state with a heavy religious background, the narrative of forgiveness and mercy amongst all people is one that seems to be conditional. “Thou shalt not kill” is a term rooted in Christianity; the theological question of whether the death penalty aligns with Biblical teachings has been discussed for years. We live in a state with strong religious influence indicating murder is one of the greatest sins, yet the death penalty is upheld.

Cruel and Unusual Punishment for All

Capital punishment is not only harmful to those directly affected by an execution, but to taxpayers in our society. In Utah, about $1.5 million goes toward pursuing the death penalty for a single case. Money that could be spent on rehabilitation and mental health care— something Utah desperately needs — is instead being put into trials, appeals and jury selections.

Nailing down the exact amount of money spent on death row cases in the U.S. altogether since 2022 poses a challenge, but the dollars spent mean nothing compared to the number of lives being ruined. Especially during a cost-of-living crisis, Americans deserve to see their tax dollars spent wisely, and incarcerated Americans deserve better conditions and resources.

Lend Your Voice to Justice

The topic alone is heavy and intimidating, leaving people questioning what to do about it. The first step is awareness and an open mind, allowing yourself to see the significant damage of the death penalty. There are both local and federal ways to be involved, both of which are crucial in abolishing the death penalty.

It’s no surprise that taking a life, innocent or not, is a cruel form of punishment in our continually changing society. Whether it be students at a local institution, local writers with a religious perspective, or those who hold the legal power to make change, advocacy matters. No human life should be subject to another human taking it. The longer we allow these inhumane ways of justice and punishment, the longer we ignore as a community and a country the urgency of change and empathy that we lack.


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About the Contributor
Mary Allen, Design Director
(she/her) Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Mary is thrilled to be here at the University of Utah studying graphic design. She feels very lucky to get to rub shoulders with the talented people that make up the team here at the Chronicle and is learning a lot from them every day. Other than making things look cute, Mary’s passions include music, pickleball, Diet Coke, wildlife protection, and the Boston Red Sox.

Comments (1)

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    RobertNov 16, 2023 at 9:10 pm

    We are seeing the results of liberal policies towards criminal conduct. Crime is out of control and America is becoming ever more dangerous. It is time to impose severe sanctions and bring crime under control. Prison is about segregating dangerous people from society. Most offenders cannot be rehabilitated.