Tensions between police officers and the people they are assigned to protect are at an all time high. Just this past year, several high-profile cases of police brutality around the nation have given rise to movements, such as Black Lives Matter. But it has also resulted in a backlash and more incidents of violent crimes committed against law enforcement officers. Now a prominent Utah lawmaker is making a statement that he’s had enough. State representative Paul Ray is proposing a new death penalty bill that would punish those who target and kill a police officer or member of the military. Ray, a Republican from Clearfield, UT, made his intentions loud and clear on the state’s capitol hill in Salt Lake City this week.
“We have people that are out across the country who are out targeting and trying to kill police officers because of who they are,” Ray said. “We want to say, you know what, in Utah we are not going to do that. We’re going to get some protections.
Although the bill has many proponents in the state legislature, it also faces a possible major opponent. Representatives from the ACLU of Utah are waiting to review the wording of the bill. But there are already concerns. According to Marina Lowe, who is legislative counsel for the ACLU, there is already one significant obstacle for the bill. Past Supreme Court rulings have made it unconstitutional for any mandatory punishment for any type of crime. Ray’s proposed bill of a mandatory death penalty against those who kill and target police officers and military personnel would have severe conflicts with the Constitution.
In addition to punishing killers of police officers and members of the military, Ray is also proposing death penalty legislation for those who are convicted of human trafficking. But not every member of the State House of Representatives is in favor of Ray’s proposals. Utah House Minority Leader Brian King (D-Salt Lake City) says he is against the death penalty. King said far too many innocent people have been put to death. King also cites the huge disparity of death row inmates based on race and class status.
Does the Death Penalty Deter Violent Crime?
According to a study conducted by the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 88% of the nation’s top criminologists do not believe the death penalty reduces violent crime. The study also revealed 87 percent of those same experts believe abolishing the death penalty would have no impact on reducing murder rates. The survey was based on questionnaires given some of the nation’s most respected criminal experts including, Fellows in the American Society of Criminology.
The Challenges of Criminal Law Defense
Nobody wants to be a victim of violent crime. Salt Lake City lawmakers are constantly proposing tougher laws. But if a person is accused of committing a violent crime, it is important for them to seek representation from a criminal defense attorney that can effectively protect their rights. There are far too many people in Utah’s prison system who are serving time for crimes they did not commit. That is why it is crucial to select the right Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney. Joseph Jardine has successfully represented many men and women charged with various violent crimes. He and his legal team work diligently in the courtroom and behind the scenes to ensure each client is placed in the best position to succeed. To learn more, contact his law office today and schedule a consultation.