DENVER – After a nine-month, community-led campaign, hours of emotional testimony and much debate, SB20-100 — the bill to repeal the death penalty in Colorado — passed its third and final reading in the House. The bill is now headed to the Governor’s desk. Once signed, it will make Colorado the 22nd state to abolish the death penalty in the U.S.
This move comes as states around the nation are reconsidering their use of the death penalty. In 2019, New Hampshire legislators rejected the punishment, making New England the first full region of the country to do so. In 2018, the Washington Supreme Court abolished capital punishment, finding it racially biased and arbitrary. In 2019, the majority of Gallup poll respondents indicated that they prefer life without parole to a death sentence for the first time since the question has been asked.
Helen Griffiths, public policy associate at the ACLU of Colorado, issued the following statement:
“Whether they were victims’ family members, prosecutors, corrections officers, or just concerned citizens, Coloradans have spent months calling for an end to a broken and unjust system. Across Colorado, our neighbors have made their voices heard: ‘Do not kill in my name.’ Thankfully, Colorado’s legislators were listening.”
Cassandra Stubbs, director of the Capital Punishment Project at the ACLU, issued the following statement:
“Today’s decision by Colorado legislators to repeal the death penalty represents a tremendous victory for justice. Around the country, states and citizens from all parts of the country and a wide range of personal and political backgrounds are coming to a similar realization: The death penalty has no place in America. Almost 50 years of data in the modern death penalty era have proven that there is no way to execute people in a way that is not racially biased, arbitrary, costly, and inhumane. Furthermore, 167 innocent people have been officially exonerated from death row since 1973. There is no excuse for any government that respects justice, fairness, and human dignity to continue to execute its people.”
For more, you can read the ACLU of Colorado’s report, Ending a Broken System: Colorado’s Expensive, Ineffective and Unjust Death Penalty.