Lawmakers who have launched an effort to repeal Colorado’s death penalty argue that it unfairly targets minorities and does not prevent violent crimes. Add to their list of concerns that an innocent person could be put to death.
“The death penalty is unjust,” state Sen. Angela Williams told reporters Tuesday at the Capitol. “It is costly. It is immoral.”
She was flanked by religious leaders, setting the stage for a debate that’s certain to be emotional in the weeks ahead.
Also attending the press conference was one of Williams’ Democratic colleagues, Sen. Rhonda Fields, who supports the death penalty. Her son, Javad, was killed by two of the three men now sitting on death row.
“The death penalty has been used to help find loved ones who have been dumped in abandoned gas wells,” Fields said after the press conference. “It’s been used to solve crimes so I think it’s a tool that should be left on the books.”
Fields said it was difficult for her to listen to her colleagues call for the repeal and said that voters should be the ones making the decision, not legislators.
“It’s very difficult because the people who were speaking and who serve haven’t experienced the loss I have,” Fields said, adding “the depth of my loss is something that most people can’t comprehend.”
Gov. Jared Polis has said he will sign a bill repealing the death penalty if it makes it to his desk.
Colorado hasn’t executed a prisoner since 1997: Gary Lee Davis, who was convicted of murder and rape.
Capitol Coverage is a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Eleven public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.