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Protecting the Bill of Rights in Utah since 1958

Execution In Utah Highlights Need To Abolish Death Penalty, Says ACLU

09 June 2010 Published in Newsroom

Execution By Firing Squad Inhumane And Brings Needed Attention To Death Penalty's Systemic Injustices

The execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner, who was put to death by firing squad early Friday, highlights the inhumanity and inequity of the death penalty system in the United States, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. The execution of Gardner, who was strapped into a chair, had a hood placed over his head and a small white target pinned over his heart before five anonymous men fired at him with identical .30 caliber rifles, was the third death sentence carried out by firing squad since 1976, and the first since 1996.

The state of Utah has executed just seven people in the last 35 years, and currently there are only nine people on the state's death row.

The following can be attributed to John Holdridge, Director of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project:

"Gardner's execution was both savage and inhumane and highlights the systemic injustices that plague the entire death penalty system in Utah and the rest of the United States. Those who are executed in this country are casualties of an unequal system of justice, in which decisions about who lives and who dies are largely dependent upon the skill of their attorneys, the race of their victim, their socioeconomic status and where the crime took place. Such arbitrary and discriminatory administration of the death penalty is the very definition of a failed system."

The following can be attributed to Marina Lowe, Legislative and Policy Counsel for the ACLU of Utah:

"Utah's taxpayers are wasting millions of dollars every year to prop up a system in which a few randomly selected individuals receive the death penalty. Instead, we can condemn the worst offenders to permanent imprisonment, a severe, swift, certain and much more cost-effective punishment that serves our shared priorities of punishing offenders and protecting society."