A group of Utah conservatives concerned about the death penalty is hoping to encourage the public and policy makers to rethink death penalty policy in the state. The group is called Utah Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty and is a project of the Utah Justice Coalition.
Kevin Green is legal projects director for the coalition and one of the founding members of the group representing a growing number of Utah conservatives questioning whether capital punishment is consistent with conservative principles and values. He says there is inefficiency, inequity, and inaccuracy in the system.
“Personally, for me is the possibility that an innocent person could be put to death,” Green said. “That happens and will continue to happen as long as the system is the way it is."
"For a lot of victim families the death penalty just draws out their torment and anguish for decades. There are a lot of victim families who don’t support the death penalty simply because of what they have to go through,” he said.
At last count, 156 individuals nationwide have been freed from death rows due to wrongful convictions. This week the group invited one of those exonorees, Ray Krone, to come to Pleasant Grove, Utah to share his story to help educate the public about his ten years in prison, three of those years were spent on death row for a murder he did not commit.
“He said it is not about those ten years but about what I do in the next ten years. I think that resonated with a lot of people because he spent the last 15 years now advocating for much needed change and telling his story all across the country,” Green said.
Most of the group’s education efforts are made through sponsored events they promote on their Facebook page. This a relatively new group working to encourage communities to take action. Green says this is not a lobbying organization but one that provides an education platform to discuss the death penalty.