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Governor Mulls Death Penalty Moratorium to Save Money

More than 165 people sentenced to death in the United States have been exonerated since 1973. (CA Corrections/Wikimedia Commons)
More than 165 people sentenced to death in the United States have been exonerated since 1973. (CA Corrections/Wikimedia Commons)
July 16, 2020

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - This week the nation saw the first federal execution in 17 years, and in Wyoming, Gov. Mark Gordon announced he will consider a moratorium for the death penalty as the state struggles with the economic fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic and a downturn in the energy sector.

Kylie Taylor, Wyoming coordinator with the group Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, praised the governor's recent comments before the state Legislature's appropriations committee.

"Governor Gorden speaking out is huge," says Taylor. "He's showing he wants to prioritize economic recovery over a failed government program that has cost Wyoming millions of dollars without any real benefit."

Wyoming is facing a $1.5 billion deficit, according to the Casper Star-Tribune. Taylor says state lawmakers approved $750,000 dollars for death-penalty defense in the current fiscal year.

Proponents of the death penalty argue it's an important deterrent for preventing murder, and brings justice and closure for surviving family members.

Taylor points to studies showing that the death penalty is not an effective deterrent. She adds that people of color are at much greater risk of being arrested, charged and executed, especially when victims are white.

"There is absolutely a racial disparity with the death penalty, and there are many statistics that show how racially biased it is," says Taylor. "Obviously, with everything going on in the country right now, this has been a really huge topic."

Taylor says in an imperfect justice system, the risk of executing even one innocent person is too high.

So far, eighteen people were exonerated by DNA testing in the U.S. after serving time on death row, according to the Innocence Project. More than 165 people sentenced to death in the U.S. have been exonerated since 1973.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY