Today's Denver Post publishes two OpEds. Tim Masters writes, "Death penalty must be repealed, says Tim Masters."
When I was 15 years old, a woman named Peggy Hettrick was brutally murdered and mutilated. Years later, I was sentenced to life imprisonment for her murder. I served 10 years of my sentence before I was proven innocent by DNA, and fully exonerated three years later. I am living proof that our criminal justice system makes terrible mistakes. I add my voice to the chorus calling upon the Colorado General Assembly to pass legislation ending the death penalty. It's the only way we can ensure no innocent man like me is ever executed in Colorado.
The death penalty is and always will be subject to human error, prejudice, politics and the emotions of revenge and anger. The murder of Peggy Hettrick rocked our community. Experienced prosecutors and self-motivated police officers convinced well-meaning citizens that I had done this terrible act. The Colorado Supreme Court, instead of freeing me, affirmed my conviction and left me to a serve a life sentence.
The death penalty needs to be repealed. We can keep our communities safe and punish terrible offenders with life imprisonment, all the while ensuring we never send an innocent man to his grave.
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers and State Representative Rhonda Fields write, "Death penalty's fate should be up to Colorado voters."
The Denver Post editorial on Colorado's death penalty was thoughtful and initiated a constructive dialogue on a controversial issue. We wish to contribute to that conversation by explaining why it is the people of Colorado who should have the final word on this life-and-death matter.
Together, as Colorado's attorney general and state legislator (as well as mother of a murdered son whose executioner currently sits on death row), we share the belief that capital punishment should remain a viable punishment for the most heinous crimes. However, we are even stronger in our belief that it is the people of our state, through the referendum process, and not their elected representatives, who should decide this important public policy matter.
The repeal of the death penalty is a divisive issue that needs to be fully debated and considered. And Coloradans deserve thorough discussion from all sides, especially in light of last year's highly publicized tragedies.
Earlier coverage from Colorado begins at the link.