6/29/12 - Forty Years after Furman: Still "Fastened to the Obsolete"
The ACLU discuses the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court's ruling which declared the death penalty unconstitutional.
In 2011, UTADP continued to widen our presence by purchasing a booth at the Democratic Convention, reaching out to community members and speaking at local universities. UTADP has also presented our concerns regarding the death penalty in op-ed pieces in local newspapers and in television and radio interviews. Our focus at this time is to widen awareness of this important issue in Utah and to increase our grassroots membership. In March, UTADP Director Ralph Dellapiana was a panel member in BYU’s Anmnesty International’s National Week of Student Action Death Penalty Campaign. Later in 2012, we will seek to broaden our support by working with both leaders from both the Republican and Democratic parties.
It is an exciting time for the movement to end the death penalty. Practically all nations in the Western World have ended the use of the death penalty. And, in the United States public support for the death penalty is waning. Connecticut’s legislature just voted to repeal its death penalty, making five states in the last five years that have ended the use of the death penalty. Plus, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber declared a moratorium on the death penalty in his state, and there will be a referendum on the ballot this fall in California to save a billion dollars by repealing the death penalty.
Last year was a time of transition for many, including Utahns for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (UTADP). Rocky Anderson closed his organization High Road for Human Rights, to pursue other opportunities to make a change on the national level. Since donations to UTADP were submitted through High Road for Human Rights, this required us to find another non-profit organization so that donations to UTADP could remain tax-deductible. Brian Barnard, a prominent civil rights attorney in Salt Lake City, has provided a home in through his organization, Utah Civil Rights & Liberties Foundation, Inc. (UCR&LF), until we are able to incorporate into our own 501(c)(3).
Further, in 2011, our web presence has had to change locations. We were able to keep our name and can still be found here: www.utadp.org. However, we lost a great deal of our web content in making this move. Realizing the importance of social media, UTADP has expanded our internet presence through a facebook page www.facebook.com/#!/groups/120204731330310. See the front page for details about an opportunity to be UTADP’s new Webmaster.
In Utah, UTADP recognizes our most persuasive arguments will be backed by hard facts. We wholeheartedly support the completion of a Utah public opinion poll regarding the death penalty to be conducted by UVU students and the production of a poll of Utah police chiefs regarding sentencing alternatives conducted by Weber State University. Additionally, the University of Utah is conducting a cost study analysis of the Death Penalty. Each of these important studies will provide our legislators and supporters with the opinions and data from Utah citizens as a basis for making smart policy decisions.
SUPPORT THE CAUSEWe are eager to receive suggestions and support. Of course we are always appreciative of monetary donations. Donations to UTADP will be used directly in funding our presence in local events, as well as signage and materials. Donations made in April will go to pay for our table and supplies at this month’s Republican State Convention. We also have ongoing expenses related to our website that we need to fund. We are all volunteers at UTADP so 100% of your donation goes directly to costs. And, your donations are 100% tax deductible. If you wish to donate to support this important cause, you may write a check to our fiscal sponsor UTAH CIVIL RIGHTS AND LEGAL FOUNDATION (UCR&LF) and note on the check that it is for “Anti-Death Penalty Work” and mail the check to: UTADP, PO BOX 1941, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110.
We have accomplished a great deal since our inception just two years ago. With your help and continued support we will continue to bring awareness to this important issue and advocate for Utah to adopt alternatives to the death penalty which are faster, cheaper, and better for the families of crime victims. And the money saved can be used on more efficacious public safety investments such as putting more officers on the street.
ALTERNATIVES TO THE DEATH PENALTY
Originally published as an Opinion Piece in the Deseret News on October 12, 2011
Oct. 10 is celebrated as World Day Against the Death Penalty, and the good news is that the death penalty is being abolished both around the world and in our nation.
In 1977, only 16 countries had outlawed the procedure for all crimes. As of December 2009, 134 countries have ended the death penalty in law or in practice. In the U.S. the trend toward abolition is also continuing. Four states in the last four years have ended the use of the death penalty by judicial or legislative action, including New York and New Jersey in 2007, New Mexico in 2009 and Illinois in 2011. Presently three other states also have legislation pending to repeal their death penalty statutes.
Utahns favor abolition of the death penalty for a variety of reasons. Faith communities oppose the practice based on their belief that killing is immoral and violates the sanctity of life. Others with experience in the criminal justice system know that the death penalty costs taxpayers far more than having life without parole as the maximum sentence. Many in the criminal justice system also oppose capital punishment because it is so rarely effective in achieving executions and because it diverts limited resources from more effective crime prevention and detection activities such as having more officers on the street and funding drug abuse prevention and treatment efforts.
Capital punishment costs too much and takes too long. Life without the possibility of parole is the best alternative to the death penalty. It works effectively both to punish offenders and to protect society at a fraction of the cost of the death penalty system. It is faster, cheaper and serves the needs of victims' families better than the death penalty because cases are resolved much more quickly and without lengthy appeals.
It is time for our state to join the world in ending this ineffective and costly practice.
Ralph Dellapiana, Director of UTADP
Utah Valley University Symposium on Restorative Justice and the Death Penalty
Death Penalty Information Center - www.deathpenaltyinfo.org
National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty - www.ncadp.org
Alternatives to Death Penalty
Troy Davis case points out death penalty flaws
RadioActive! Aug 8, 2009 - Rebuilding the American Dream: Rocky Anderson explores the morality of the death penalty with Ralph Dellapiana.