It is often said that support for the death penalty is a mile wide but an inch deep — people often support it, but they haven’t spent too much time figuring out why. It is understandable that, in reaction to a violent and senseless crime, the community would want to see justice done. But after spending a lot of time considering the issues, we have decided that the justice that best serves our community isn’t capital punishment.
As a result, we are sponsoring a bill to end capital punishment in Montana and replace it with life without the possibility of parole.
Those who support the death penalty usually use the same, tired arguments: It saves money. It deters crime. Everyone who gets the death penalty is guilty and deserves to die. We’re here to say those arguments are wrong, wrong and wrong.
Studies show that the death penalty costs up to 10 times as much as life without parole, even when you account for the housing, feeding and medical attention for a prisoner for the rest of his or her life. If you think we can make it cheaper by getting rid of the lengthy appeals process required for the death penalty, you’re mistaken. Thanks to mandates from the U.S. and Montana Supreme Courts, most of the costs actually come on the front end, during the drawn-out and expensive initial death penalty trial. You may not like paying tax dollars that allow a criminal to sit in prison for 50 years, but you should really hate paying 10 times that much for a 20-year-plus process that almost never ends in an execution.
This bill will save Montana taxpayer dollars, protect innocent lives, better serve murder victim family members, stay true to our Christian values, and still ensure that murderers are never free to harm our communities. The answer is simple: It’s time to get rid of the death penalty.
The paper also notes that the Montana House Judiciary Committee will hear Rep. Kary's bill, HB 370, next Friday, February 15. The Committee meeting is scheduled to begin at 8:00 am (MST).
Earlier coverage from Montana begins at the link.