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Colorado death penalty repeal killed in committee

The co-sponsors of a bill that would have repealed the death penalty in Colorado appeared upset yesterday when members of the House committee considering the measure failed to pass it. After Gov. John Hickenlooper expressed doubt about the bill at a caucus luncheon last week, hinting that he may veto it, two Democrats on the committee changed their votes to defeat it.

The sponsors said they were confident that they had the votes in committee and in the legislature as a whole to pass the bill and deliver it for Hickenlooper's signature. Opponents of the death penalty say it is inhumane, ineffective as a deterrent to violent crime and extremely costly.

The death penalty has come under increased scrutiny over the past few decades as news media began to discover and tell more stories about wrongful convictions leading to executions of innocent people. Sometimes death row inmates are exonerated or given a less severe sentence after additional evidence comes to light. However, sometimes that evidence is discovered too late to save their lives.

Since 2007, seven states have repealed their laws allowing the death penalty, bringing the total number of states without capital punishment to 17. Two states on the east coast are currently considering legislation that would repeal the death penalty as well. While Colorado has failed to join this trend during this legislative session, it appears that widespread support for capital punishment is flagging. Perhaps next year our state's lawmakers can pass a repeal and get on the right side of history.

Source: The Denver Post, "Colorado committee rejects death penalty repeal; sponsor blames Gov. Hickenlooper," Kurtis Lee and Lynn Bartels, March 26, 2013

To learn more about criminal charges in Colorado, please visit our website.

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