Today's Denver Post publishes the editorial, "Hickenlooper should get behind death penalty repeal."
Anyone who witnessed the House Judiciary Committee's marathon hearing Tuesday on a bill to ban the death penalty in Colorado could appreciate the passionate arguments on each side of the issue.
But we hope Gov. John Hickenlooper, who still has not taken a position, sides with supporters of House Bill 1264, which would abolish capital punishment in Colorado.
Another bill would send the issue to voters. We think that's a mistake. Lawmakers, the elected representatives in our republican form of government, have the right and the duty to decide tough questions like this. It should be no different in the case of the death penalty.
We've said it before and will say it again: Reason and morality demand that the death penalty be abolished.
"Colorado Legislature delays debate on death penalty repeal," is the latest AP filing, written by Kristen Wyatt. It's via the Boulder Daily Camera.
Colorado's debate over repealing the death penalty will stay on hold, for now, after a state House committee decided Wednesday to delay a ballot measure on doing away with the punishment.
The ballot-measure suggestion was the second Democratic death-penalty proposal in as many days to go on ice. On Tuesday, an outright repeal was delayed by a separate committee after nine hours of emotional testimony on both sides.
The sponsor of the death-penalty ballot question, Rep. Rhonda Fields, is a supporter who proposed the ballot measure because she supports the death penalty and believes voters would decide to keep it.
"Bill to have voters weigh-in on death penalty laid over by House committee," is Denver Post coverage by Kurtis Lee.
The debate over Colorado's death penalty returned to the state Capitol on Wednesday, as lawmakers convened in a House committee and decided to delay a vote on a measure that would put the issue on the ballot.
A date for a final committee vote on the measure has not been set.
Sponsored by Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, House Bill 1270 would have voters decide in 2014 whether to repeal the death penalty.
Fields' bill is in response to her own party's efforts to have the legislature repeal the state's authority to sentence a person to death.
That measure, House Bill 1264, is sponsored by Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, and Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora. The House Judiciary Committee heard nine hours of testimony Tuesday from opponents and proponents of the bill.
If passed, the bill would remove the death penalty option for prosecutors for offenses committed after July 1.
The Post also reports, "Hickenlooper hints at veto of lawmakers' death-penalty repeal bill," by Kurtis Lee and Lynn Bartels. It's via the Canon City Daily Record.
Gov. John Hickenlooper has let his fellow Democrats know he has issues with a bill that allows lawmakers to repeal Colorado's death penalty, mentioning a "veto" as the sponsors say they have the votes to get it passed.
Hickenlooper on Tuesday spoke with House Democrats at their regular caucus luncheon in a building across the street from the Capitol, one hour before a committee was scheduled to hear the death-penalty bill.
Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, said it was the first time he has heard the governor use the term "veto."
"He did not say, 'I will definitely, undoubtedly with no question veto this,' " Pabon said. "But he did say that is something he is bouncing around. He used the 'v' word."
"It's no secret the governor has conflicting feelings about the death penalty," Hickenlooper's spokesman, Eric Brown, said via e-mail Wednesday. "Those feelings are still unresolved."
When Hickenlooper ran for office in 2010, he answered a Denver Post question about whether the death penalty should be repealed by saying, "No, but it should be restricted."
Late last year, though, Hickenlooper was less decisive about the death penalty.
"I wrestle with this, right now, on a pretty much daily basis because we are in a position where we have a couple of death-row inmates that are going to come up, and I haven't come to a conclusion," he told The Associated Press.
The Colorado Independent reports, "Colorado Death Penalty Repeal Testimony: ‘Flashbacks Still Haunt Me Today’," by Susan Greene.
Allen Ault worked from 1977 to 1979 under Democratic Governor Dick Lamm and in the 1990s as director of the National Institute of Corrections Academy in Boulder. Ault said he was “blessed” not to have to carry out a death sentence in Colorado but noted that he oversaw five executions later, as commissioner of corrections in Georgia.
“Regardless of the act perpetrated by the condemned, it has an extremely detrimental impact to watch a man die because of your actions,” Ault wrote in a testimony read to the committee by Frank Thompson, a former warden of prisons in Arkansas and Oregon.
“After each execution, we made psychological help available to the ‘execution team.’ I made sure they received this. Eventually, I had to avail myself of the services, but the flashbacks still haunt me today.”
In his statement, Ault referred to evidence from the past 20 years showing that “98 percent of prison deaths have occurred in states with the death penalty.” He dismissed arguments by many law enforcers that capital punishment deters prison violence and that it keeps corrections officials safe.
Earlier coverage of the Colorado repeal legislation begins at the link. More from Colorado in the next post.