ALL NEWS

Prominent author speaks with Utah lawmakers about the death penalty

Jan 19, 2022, 10:44 PM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 11:21 am
utah death penalty...
Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, talks to journalists while at the Capitol in Salt Lake City to meet with lawmakers on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, to discuss elimination of the death penalty in Utah. Photo credit: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — An author whose work became an award-winning movie came to Utah Wednesday to speak with lawmakers about the death penalty.

Bryan Stevenson, whose 2019 memoir Just Mercy was turned into an NAACP Image Award-winning movie, spoke with Gov. Cox and other state lawmakers on Wednesday.

Stevenson says he believes in public safety but sees the death penalty as an obstacle to that safety.

“We’re wasting a lot of money in the pursuit of something that doesn’t, in my judgment, contribute to the health of a community,” Stevenson said.

During public comments, Stevenson was flanked by Rep. Lowry Snow (R-District 74) and Sen. Daniel McCay (R-District 11), the co-sponsors of a bill that would change the capital punishment law in Utah.

If passed, H.B. 147 would replace the death penalty with a prison sentence of 45 years to life, leaving life without parole as a possible sentence.

In September 2021, the Salt Lake County District Attorney, Utah County Attorney, and Summit County Attorney announced they supported the then-upcoming legislation. 

In the same month, Utah County Attorney David Leavitt announced he would no longer seek the death penalty in cases brought to his office.

Stevenson wrote Just Mercy about his experiences defending a man on death row. His memoir became a major film starring Jamie Foxx, who won an NAACP Image Award for his performance.

He is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative out of Montgomery, Alabama. Described as a human rights organization, EJI has won legal battles involving unfair sentencing. The organization has also helped exonerate innocent people on death row.

Simone Seikaly contributed.

Other reading:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

Multiple dollar bills are pictured, social security will see a bump...
Mark Jones

Eyeing retirement: How much money is enough after you leave a job?

How do you know when it's time to leave a job or if you'll have enough for retirement? Dave and Dujanovic talk to a financial planner about this important question.
20 hours ago
Salt Lake City Police are investigating a fatal stabbing at the Palmer Court Apartments on Thursday...
Mark Jones

One person dead following a stabbing in Salt Lake City suspect still at large

One person died following a stabbing in Salt Lake City on Thursday afternoon, according to Salt Lake City Police. Police are still searching for a suspect.
20 hours ago
UDOT crews fill potholes...
Devin Oldroyd

UDOT uses public’s help locating potholes

UDOT spokesperson John Gleason says the department is monitoring where the potholes are, thanks in large part to the public.
20 hours ago
interest rate...
Curt Gresseth

Interest rate ticks up. Time to tame your debt.

The chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com joins the show to talk about the rising interest rate and how you can get out from under the debt you have accumulated.
20 hours ago
Utah Sen. Mike Lee has joined an effort to make concealed carry permits in Utah viable in any state...
Aimee Cobabe

Utah senator joins other senators in support of concealed-carry reciprocity

The Reciprocity Act would ensure that a concealed-carry permit would be valid in Utah and other states where concealed carry permits are allowed.
20 hours ago
transgender...
Hugo Rikard-Bell

Dozens rally at Utah’s capitol for transgender health care Wednesday

Crowds of people rallied at the capitol building to protest the legislature's ban on transgender related health care for minors.
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Prominent author speaks with Utah lawmakers about the death penalty