As the Pueblo Chieftain reports:
The death penalty may be dead in Colorado if a preliminary vote in the House to repeal it on Wednesday holds up.
Five Democrats – including Rep. Ed Vigil, D-Fort Garland – joined Republicans voting against the measure, but it wasn’t enough to kill the bill that would repeal the death penalty, using money the state spends on prosecuting and defending capital crimes and transferring it to a special cold-case investigation unit…
The debate raged for nearly two hours on the appropriateness of using the death penalty, including rejecting an effort to place the question before voters.
The question even took on a religious tone, with supporters and opponents of the death penalty invoking the word of God to support their position.
“I believe it’s moral to take a life. I believe the society has dictated to us in the way we’ve developed says, when somebody deserves to die based on the heinous crimes they’ve committed, it’s OK for the state to put them to death,” said Rep. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs. “Society has said throughout the millennia that this is an appropriate and just and righteous sentence for the most heinous crime committers in the world. It’s happened since the times of David in the Bible.”
House Speaker Terrance Carroll, D-Denver and an ordained minister, said his religious beliefs, however, have taught him to believe the opposite.
We’re actually surprised to see this bill holding up so well, which despite the dramatic debate fodder it provides we’d say is more likely to be considered favorably for its potential cost savings in the current budgetary climate–however symbolic, every dollar you can shift away from the corrections money pit helps. Criminal justice reform activists, for their part, are thrilled that the bill is being seriously considered, and don’t really care what the motivations are.
But the biggest obstacle for this bill has been and remains Governor Bill Ritter, the former DA who has sought the death penalty repeatedly and by all accounts favors it. Of course Ritter is Catholic, and they’re supposed to “pro-life” at both ends, aren’t they? If the bill actually makes it to his desk, whatever he does with it will be a front page story.