Posts Tagged ‘Colorado law’

Colorado Death Penalty On Death Row

The Colorado legislature is considering the elimination of the death penalty in Colorado.  House Bill 1274, proposed by Colorado House Majority Leader Paul Weissman, would eliminate the death penalty in Colorado in order to save money.  Some of the money saved may be used to solve and prosecute cold cases.

Almost identical legislation narrowly failed in 2007, but may have a better chance of passage this year given the budget challenges and the fact that the Democrats are the majority party in both houses of the Colorado legislature and we have a Democratic Governor.

Colorado currently has only two people on death row and has only executed one person since 1967.

Both the Denver Post and the New York Times have written articles documenting the fact that in addition to Colorado a number of other states (including Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Maryland, Montana and New Mexico) are considering repealing the death penalty to save money at a time when states are facing enourmous budgetary pressure as a result of the recession.  These articles document the fact that death penalty cases cost as much as ten times what it costs to prosecute criminals and keep them in prison for the rest of their lives.  According to California’s Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, California spends an additional $63 Million each year just to imprison its death row inmates.  That expense does not even include the cost of trials and appeals which can be up to ten times as expensive as trials where the penalty being sought by the state is life imprisonment.

The Daily Sentinel reported:

The money spent on prosecuting death-penalty cases and subsequent appeals, according to Weissman, is a drain on state law enforcement resources. “We spend about $2 million from the state, and about $2 million locally on a death penalty that we never use,” Weissman says.

Add to this the facts that very few death sentences are carried out each year and that a number of death row inmates have subsequently been exonerated through DNA evidence, and there appears to be a strong argument to repeal the death penalty this year when state budgets are so tight.

I have mixed emotions about the death penalty.  As a general matter, I am opposed to the idea of killing anyone.  However, I am a husband and a father and I have read news accounts over the years about gruesome murders by criminals who are so repugnant that I can see where an eye for an eye has an appeal.

I know that many family members of victims disagree, but I have to believe that Colorado can find better ways to spend the money it will save by repealing the death penalty – especially during this recession when all of us have to make difficult choices.

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