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Reader: The Death Penalty Is Incredibly Racist in How It's AppliedEXPAND
Flickr/Kurt Morrow

Reader: The Death Penalty Is Incredibly Racist in How It's Applied

A new bill in the legislature is trying to repeal the death penalty in Colorado. Introduced by Democratic senators Julie Gonzales and Angela Williams, the bill passed its first legislative hurdle on Wednesday, March 6, when the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-2, along party lines, in favor of it.

But not without emotional testimony...or the promise of some opposition down the road from Coloradans who might take the question to the ballot.

In the meantime, Brett says:

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Liberals want to kill babies but save killers' lives.

Shari argues:

Two words... Chris Watts.

Gregory notes:

I think the people who vote for this should be the only ones required to fund our overcrowded prison system. See how much support it gets then.

Eric wonders:

Why not? We don't ever use it.

Bob explains:

The U.S. is the ONLY western country in the world that still has the death penalty. Keeping someone in prison for life is actually cheaper than the death penalty and a more fitting punishment. The death penalty is NOT a deterrent and never has been. Once you look at the statistics, it's incredibly racist in how it's applied. Texas has also executed dozens of mentally disabled individuals, which is a massive violation of human rights. Simply put, the death penalty is not only immoral, but it's simply not needed in an advanced society to deal with crime. In Canada for instance, the most you can get for murder is 25 years, yet their crime rate per capita, especially in relation to violent crimes, is a fraction of the United States.

Lora responds:

I think more people need and deserve the death penalty.

Sean urges:

Let's not make this a right/left thing. I'm a Democrat, and I'm opposed to the repeal. That said, there hasn't been an execution since 1997, and it's the only one since '77, when capital punishment was reintroduced. So it's not like we're using it anyway, when monsters like Chris Watts and James Holmes accept plea deals for life w/o parole, and Nathan Dunlap, who is on death row (1 of 3), will die of old age before lethal injection.

William concludes:

I’m not sure we should abolish it outright, but we need to only use it for utterly extreme circumstances where there is irrefutable proof, to the point where in practice it is abolished. If we execute a single wrongly convicted person, then we’re murderers. 

During the hearing, those in favor of Senate Bill 182 cited morals, race and economics as reasons to repeal the death penalty. "We are better than killing our own citizens," said Doug Wilson, who served as a public defender in Colorado for twelve years and has represented around 35 clients in death-penalty cases.

To highlight the racial argument against the death penalty, Wilson and others pointed to the fact that all three individuals currently on death row in Colorado are black men. They also argued that trials involving the death penalty and the inevitable appellate court trials cost much more than a trial involving a potential sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

The district attorneys of both Denver and Boulder testified in support of the bill. "The criminal justice system is not perfect," said Boulder District Attorney Michael Dougherty, alluding to the fact that innocent people sometimes end up on death row.

But those in favor of maintaining the death penalty also came out swinging. Four Colorado district attorneys asserted that repealing the death penalty would be an insult to the families of murder victims. "All you will have done is to cheapen the extraordinary evil crimes that take place here," said George Brauchler, district attorney for the 18th Judicial District.

What do you think about the death penalty? Let us know in a comment or at editorial@westword.com.

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