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Wyoming Governor Considers Death Penalty Moratorium As State Grapples With Economic Woes

CA Corrections
Wikipedia Commons

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon announced he will consider a moratorium for the death penalty as the state struggles with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and a downturn in the energy sector.

"Governor Gorden speaking out is huge. 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," said Kylie Taylor, who is with the group Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty and is referring to the governor's recent comments before the state Legislature's appropriations committee.

Wyoming is facing a $1.5 billion deficit, according to the Casper Star-Tribune. Taylor said state lawmakers approved $750,000 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 pointed to studies showing that the death penalty is not an effective deterrent. She added 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,” said Taylor. “Obviously, with everything going on in the country right now, this has been a really huge topic."

Taylor said 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.