Today's Great Falls Tribune reports, "Conservative group looks to abolish Montana death penalty." it's written by John S. Adams.
A conservative political group opposed to the death penalty is calling for an end to capital punishment in the wake of a recent court ruling that found the state’s method of execution unconstitutional.
“Conservatives dislike waste and inefficiency. That is why we should cast a critical eye when the state is involved with the business of executing people,” said former Republican state Sen. Roy Brown of Billings.
Brown is on the advisory committee of Montana Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty.
“When it takes over 20 years and hundreds of thousands of tax payer dollars for extra legal fees and court costs, it is obvious that the process is full of waste and inefficiency,” Brown said.
Brown worked across the aisle with Democrats in the state Senate in past legislative sessions to try to end the death penalty in Montana.
Montana State District Court Judge Jeffrey Sherlock of Helena ruled Sept. 17 that the protocols by which death row inmates are executed in Montana violate both state law and the Montana Constitution. Sherlock’s decision requires that both the Legislature and the Department of Corrections act to make changes to the rules that govern an inmate’s execution.
However, critics of the death penalty say the ruling should catalyze opposition to the death penalty in the halls of the Capitol.
“The ruling shines a bright light on the ineffectiveness and inefficiencies associated with capital punishment. Couple that with strong conservative leadership on the issue, and we are optimistic that we will abolish the death penalty in 2013,” said Steve Dogiakos, director of the conservative abolition group. “On the national level, there are a growing number of conservatives who are vocal about the problems of the death penalty.”
Democratic Sen. Dave Wanzenried of Missoula carried abolition bills in the 2009 and 2011 sessions, which passed the Senate but then died in the Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee.
Choteau Republican Rep. Christy Clark agreed and vowed she would fight any attempts to “fix” Montana’s death penalty statute. Clark also said she plans to sponsor a bill to repeal the death penalty and replace it with life without the possibility of parole.
“It is time for conservatives to do what they do best and insist that a wasteful inefficient government program gets off the books,” Clark said. “Small government and the death penalty don't go together. We should not trust the state to get this right.”
Clark said past efforts to “fix” the death penalty have failed, and legislative efforts to correct the protocol as required by Sherlock’s ruling would “lead to additional litigation, longer delays, and more wasted time and money.”
Earlier coverage from Montana begins with this month's lethal injection ruling; also available, coverage of repeal legislation in the 2011 and 2009 Montana legislative sessions. Montana conservatives are also noted in a 2010 post.