Death Penalty Update: Colorado
As noted by my friend, Daniel (who lives in CO when home from his mission work in the Bahamas), yesterday the Colorado Houe of Reps. narrowly passed legislation to repeal the death penalty. From here the bill goes to the CO senate and, if it passes there, to Gov. Ritter (D-CO) who has not said whether or not he will sign the bill. Ritter is a former prosecutor who has always supported the death penalty, but he is also a devout Catholic and in the last several decades the Catholic Church has shown strong opposition to the death penalty. (This is not the church’s traditional stance.) So much so is this the case that studies have shown that the more frequently American Catholics go to mass, the more likely they are to oppose the death penalty. (I wish the same could be said of American Evangelicals!)
The Colorado legislation would not just repeal the death penalty, but would use the money saved to help solve cold case murders. That provision has to appeal to law and order types, including a former prosecutor who is now CO governor, I hope. I wish Ritter would speak out in favor of the bill since that could help its chances in the CO Senate.
If CO abolishes the death penalty, it will be the second state this year (both Western states with Catholic governors) right after New Mexico, and the third state in two years (NJ abolished the death penalty in 2007).
MD, whose Catholic governor campaigned on abolishing the death penalty and won, has just passed legislation that would make it much harder to execute prisoners. Gov. O’Malley thinks it a good first step and will sign it, but is not giving up on full abolition.
There are abolitionist bills currently in IL, CT, NH, ME, and NE. The Alaska legislature killed a bill to restore their long-abandoned death penalty and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D-VA) vetoed legislation that would have greatly expanded their death penalty statute.
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