Reader: Let the People of Colorado Vote on the Death Penalty

Tim Ricard's wife, Mary, was murdered in 2012 while working as a Colorado corrections officer. He supports the repeal.
Tim Ricard's wife, Mary, was murdered in 2012 while working as a Colorado corrections officer. He supports the repeal.
Courtesy of Phil Cherner
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Following decades of work by abolitionists, politicians and family members of murder victims, the death penalty in Colorado appears to be on its way out.

The Colorado Senate moved a death penalty repeal bill to the House on Friday, January 31, following emotional testimony from supporters and opponents alike. But the bill will likely make it through the House and to the governor's desk. If Jared Polis signs it into law, Colorado will become the 22nd state to repeal the death penalty.

Readers have plenty to say about the possible repeal. Urges Jessica:

Let the people of Colorado vote on this. Otherwise, we will vote you out of office.

Wonders Chris:

WTF is going on with Colorado politics? This article should track who stands to benefit from this. I am sorry, but some criminals, especially child sex offenders and murderers, shouldn't have any freedoms, and that includes life in prison on our tax dollars.

Counters Neal:

There are far too many innocent people in our prison system for the death penalty to be acceptable. If we could be certain that everyone on death row was innocent, that would be different, but we can't.

Explains Timothy:

Considering the fact that the death penalty has not resulted in a lower murder rate and many of those convicted who had their sentence carried out were shown to be innocent later, I think it's time we just do away with it altogether. In fact, I think that this is in line with a pro-life position. Killing someone should be considered evil in all circumstances short of self defense in the moment.

"So long as the death penalty remains on the books, we will fail to rise to our duties of office," Senator Angela Williams, a Denver Democrat and one of the bill's sponsors, said at a January 30 Senate hearing on the proposal.

Republican senators, together with Democratic Senator Rhonda Fields, argued against repeal.

"I oppose the repeal of the death penalty because it’s hard for us to project what the next crime is going to be like, but we’re already telegraphing the same penalty for every single crime. That is not justice," said Fields, whose son and his fiancée were killed by two of the three men currently on death row. "We are inspiring the next mass shooter if we take away this option for prosecutors."

Last year, Fields was successful in preventing a death penalty repeal bill from moving through the legislature. The Aurora senator argued that the rollout of the bill was rushed and that she and other family members of victims weren't notified about the proposal soon enough. Following her lead, a handful of Democrats declined to support the legislation. Although the 2019 bill made it out of committee, sponsors weren't sure if they'd have enough votes in the Senate and decided to table it until 2020.

Now it looks like that strategy will be successful.

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

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