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Death penalty is barbaric

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One hundred fifty years ago, religious leaders and reformers in New England and elsewhere crusaded tirelessly against "the twin relics of barbarism," slavery in the South and polygamy in Utah. For more than a century, slavery has been outlawed throughout the United States and polygamous or plural marriages have been "forever prohibited" by the first paragraph of Article III in the Utah State Constitution.

Despite this commendable progress, our country today is disgraced by another lingering relic of barbarism: legalized murder, also known as capital punishment. Today, nearly all of the nations of Europe have rejected execution as the punishment for convicted murderers. The civilized alternative is a very long time in prison or life in prison with no possibility for parole.

It is time for the United States to follow the example of its European neighbors in dealing with convicted murderers. Facing one's remaining lifetime in a cage is a far greater punishment than a painless state-delivered death.

News reports in recent months have reminded us that (1) poor people face a greater likelihood of being sentenced to death row than do wealthy people, and (2) DNA evidence has resulted in the release from death row of wrongly convicted people.

Boyer Jarvis

Salt Lake City