Many red states have moved to abolish the death penalty because it is immoral, expensive, and does not deter crime, according to a report in The Hill.
A bill that would abolish the death penalty easily passed the Wyoming House on Friday and a bill that would end capital punishment in Kentucky was introduced in the House in early January by state House Majority Whip Chad McCoy. In Virginia, the state Senate voted to ban the death penalty for anyone with a serious mental illness.
"When you talk about death penalty, a lot of people immediately want to have a criminal justice angle on it or a morality angle," McCoy, a Republican, told The Hill. "And mine is purely economics."
Those on death row "have cost us an inordinate amount of money, and if we just went with life without parole, we would save the state millions and millions of dollars," he added.
New death sentences and executions have dropped to historic lows in the U.S., according to a recent USA Today report, and public opinion is turning against capital punishment – there were 42 death sentences and 25 executions nationwide last year.
Wyoming state Rep. Jared Olsen told The Hill he was concerned about the number of death row prisoners who had been exonerated – more than 160 people have been released since 1973, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
"That tells me that the system is broken," Olsen said. "It is way too much authority to vest in our government, and we get it wrong."