Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett writes the OpEd, "DA: Death penalty not practical in Colorado," for the Boulder Daily Camera. Here's the beginning of this must-read:
As the Colorado legislature prepares for the possible consideration of a bill to repeal the death penalty, I have offered my views on the practicality of the death penalty to many in the legislature. I am not morally or philosophically opposed to the death penalty. As the elected District Attorney in Colorado's 20th Judicial District (Boulder County), I see plenty of violence where a state imposed imposition of death is hypothetically acceptable to me, and not morally objectionable, as a punishment. My view of the human condition recognizes that human beings are capable of unspeakable acts towards each other. And, as long as the death penalty is the law of Colorado, my office will, in consultation with a victim's family, formally review every class one felony to determine whether it will be sought.
However, the practical problems with the death penalty make it of limited relevance to Colorado law enforcement:
The first problem is the expense. Prosecuting a death penalty case through a verdict in the trial court can cost the prosecution well over $ 1 million dollars (not to mention the expense incurred by the judiciary and the cost of defense counsel, which is almost always funded with taxpayer funds in a death penalty case). To put this in context, my total operating budget for this office is $4.6 million and with that budget we prosecute 1,900 felonies, per year (and my office tried nearly 50 felony jury trials, including six homicides in calendar 2012). Given that a first degree murder conviction carries an automatic life without parole sentence, and that convicted class one felons serve their life sentence in modern, highly secure prisons where escape is impossible, the additional expense to obtain a death sentence hardly seems cost effective and adds nothing to a primary goal of the justice system: to maintain public safety. The appellate costs are even greater: the estimate is that a 1994 Colorado death verdict currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court has cost the state of Colorado nearly $18 million to fund through all the appeals.
Earlier coverage from Colorado begins at the link.