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Wyoming governor weighing death penalty moratorium to save state money
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Wyoming governor weighing death penalty moratorium to save state money

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Gov. Mark Gordon

Gov. Mark Gordon speaks July 1 at a press conference in Cheyenne. 

Gov. Mark Gordon told lawmakers Monday he was considering a moratorium on Wyoming's death penalty as a way to save money ahead of a wave of budget cuts in response to declining state revenue. 

The announcement, which came in a Monday morning meeting with members of the Legislature's Joint Appropriations Committee, would temporarily bring an end to the little-used practice of capital punishment in Wyoming.

"I'm looking very seriously at a moratorium on the death penalty," Gordon said. "Whatever I can do to forestall that is an option. It costs us around a million dollars every time that is brought up. These are just luxuries, luxuries, that we will no longer be able to afford."

While the Wyoming Legislature has so far been reluctant to eliminate the death penalty, Gordon said that the state's looming fiscal crisis makes maintaining the death penalty an untenable option as he seeks to implement budget cuts of up to 20 percent across the board.

The state is facing a $1.5 billion revenue hole due to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, as well as downturns in the energy industry. 

Wyoming currently has no prisoners on death row. Some lawmakers have pushed to end the death penalty, arguing that maintaining a capital punishment system that's rarely used is costly and unnecessary. 

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