For the first time in years, Utah legislators are debating the merits of the death penalty, with some conservative Republican legislators questioning whether the cost and risk of executing innocent people argued for doing away with executions in the state, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. “‘I’d pull the switch if I knew the person was guilty, and I have no problem with an eye for an eye,” said Sen. Mark Madsen. ”But it is not a conservative value to have blind, slavish faith in government and to assume that they’ll always get it right just because they have a badge or work in the prosecutor’s office and we’ve invested them with a lot of authority.”
Members of a legislative committee heard from a pair of legislators in Nebraska about why that state recently abolished capital punishment, and critics of the death penalty who said the cost is exorbitant and the risk of executing innocent people is very real. Madsen, the committee chairman, described his own evolution on the issue, to the point where he would support following the lead of legislatures in other states and do away with the death penalty. Other states are already moving in that direction. The Nebraska Legislature repealed the death penalty earlier this year, but a petition drive seeking to reverse the move has blocked the repeal from taking effect until after the 2016 election. Nebraska Republican Sen. Brett Lindstrom told the committee that he supported the death penalty a year ago, but botched executions in other states and concerns about the cost and false convictions led him to a change of heart.