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There are approximately 57 countries that use capital punishment for the most heinous crimes, but only one is a Western industrialized nation: the United States.

Capital punishment in the U.S. in the context of state, national and international policies will be the focus of the eighth annual symposium on the death penalty sponsored by Utah Valley University on Thursday. The event will feature such experts as James Acker, a criminal justice professor at State University of New York, Albany, and co-director of the Capital Punishment Research Initiative; Ted Wachtel, founder of the International Institute for Restorative Practices; and Alan Clarke, a UVU professor.

The free, all-day event will be held in the university's library auditorium, room 120, and begins at 8:30 a.m. UVU is located in Orem.

This year's symposium comes as one Utah lawmaker has called for a review of how much death-penalty cases are costing the state. A cost analysis presented to a legislative interim committee in August estimated annual ongoing states costs of managing death-penalty cases at slightly more than $1 million; local governments spend about $470,000 a year on any death-penalty case they prosecute.

A student group, under the guidance of professor Sandy McGunigall-Smith, will present an overview of a research project looking at Utahns' attitudes toward capital punishment. There also will be a panel discussion and a question-and-answer session during which members of the public may share views on capital punishment.

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