Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

House Speaker Urges GOP To Support Death Penalty Repeal

Whittney Evans/KUER
Rep. Gage Froerer with House Speaker Greg Hughes and Brett Tollman, a former U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah to endorse Froerer's bill.

House Speaker Greg Hughes is throwing his weight behind a bill to abolish the death penalty in Utah. He’ll be working over the coming weeks to sway his GOP colleagues.

Two years ago, Republican Rep. Gage Froerer supported the death penalty when a repeal came up for a vote in the legislature. Now he’s sponsoring a bill to end executions.

Froerer cites the decades-long appeals process that costs Utah taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. And he says it’s justice delayed for victim’s families. House Speaker Greg Hughes agrees. And he says the government has a tendency to make mistakes.

"And when you’re talking about giving government the ability to execute citizenry, if they’re wrong, and we think statistically there will be occasions where the government is wrong, we should all be a little bit concerned about that,” Hughes says.

Nationwide, support for the death penalty is waning among Republicans. But Hughes sees a tough battle ahead, wrangling staunch death penalty supporters.  

H.B. 379 will get its first hearing Wednesday morning in a House committee.

Members of that committee include Rep. Paul Ray, who strongly supports the death penalty and Rep. Erik Hutchings who co-sponsored the repeal in 2016.

Recent polls show a majority of Utahns support the death penalty.

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.