WyoFile posts a column by Kerry Drake, "Death penalty opponents are making gains in Wyoming." Here are several excerpts:
The idea someone whose punishment is sitting in a prison cell for the rest of his life may have it worse than if he’d been killed by the state is a theme the committee discussed. In fact, it’s a central part of the argument advanced by many who would like to see the death penalty abolished.
But first, legislators debated a bill to address another capital punishment controversy. How can you humanely kill a prisoner by lethal injection if the countries that manufacture the chemicals used in the process consider the practice so barbaric, they won’t sell them to American prisons?
During the last budget session, Sen. Bruce Burns (R-Sheridan) sponsored a bill to use a firing squad, like Utah does. But problems obtaining the banned chemicals weren’t well known then, and it was quickly defeated. The national media treated it as an example of a trigger-happy state anxious to cull its prison population.
But after horrific, botched lethal injection attempts in Oklahoma, Ohio and Arizona, the Judiciary Committee not only considered Burns’ bill, it decided to sponsor the measure.
The second proposal, to end capital punishment, drew a much more emotional response. That’s not a surprise, since many hold opposite views on an issue that really is a matter of life or death. But I didn’t expect this: A majority of members actually supported the bill. That would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, but the anti-death penalty contingent is definitely changing some minds.
While the panel voted 7-6 to end the death penalty, the Judiciary Committee will not sponsor the bill. It takes a majority of both House and Senate members approving a measure to gain such sponsorship, and the bill died 4 to 1 on the Senate side. Only Democratic Sen. Esquibel voted for it.
But death penalty opponents shouldn’t feel disheartened. The bill got five Republican votes from House members, which is considerable progress. Several said they felt the issue is important enough to be debated by the entire legislature.
Earlier coverage from Wyoming begins at the link.