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BREAKING: After Historic Vote, Colorado to Become 22nd State to End the Death Penalty

DENVER – After a nine month, community-led campaign, hours of emotional testimony and much debate, SB20-100 — the bill to end the death penalty in Colorado — passed its 3rd and final reading in the House. The bill is now headed to the Governor’s desk. Once signed, it will make Colorado the 22nd state to abolish the death penalty in the U.S.

“Thanks to the support from faith leaders, death row exonerees, District Attorneys, corrections officers and, most significantly, family members who lost loved ones to murder, Colorado has finally made the case that the death penalty is arbitrary, ineffective and does not deliver justice to family members,” said ACLU of Colorado Public Policy Director Denise Maes. “The people have spoken, and we thank the legislators for their moral leadership in putting an end to this unjust and barbaric system.”

Sen. Julie Gonzales, Sen. Jack Tate, Rep. Jeni James Arndt and Rep. Adrienne Benavidez joined the long-time efforts of community organizers to seek the end of the death penalty in Colorado. During both hearings, dozens of victim family members spoke out against a system that causes additional trauma. The ACLU of Colorado reportEnding A Broken System: Colorado’s Expensive, Ineffective and Unjust Death Penalty, highlighted 22 stories of families whose loved ones were murdered.

This decision comes as states around the nation are reconsidering their use of the death penalty. In 2019, New Hampshire legislators rejected the punishment, making New England the first full region of the country of the country to do so. In 2018, the Washington Supreme Court abolished it, finding it racially biased and arbitrary. In 2019, the majority of Gallup poll takers indicated that they prefer life without parole to a death sentence for the first time since the question has been asked.

“Whether they were victims’ family members, prosecutors, corrections officers or just concerned citizens, Coloradans have spent months calling for an end to a broken and unjust system,” ACLU of Colorado Public Policy Associate Helen Griffiths said. “Across Colorado, our neighbors have made their voices heard: ‘Do not kill in my name.’ Thankfully, Colorado’s legislators were listening.”

This bill is now headed to Gov. Jared Polis who has said he intends to sign the bill into law once it reaches his desk.

RESOURCES:

Ending A Broken System: Colorado’s Expensive, Ineffective and Unjust Death Penalty: https://aclu-co.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/DeathPenaltyWhitePaper_Finalv2.pdf

For more information on the End Colorado’s Death Penalty Campaign go to: https://www.enddeathpenaltyco.org/

End Colorado’s Death Penalty is a campaign by ACLU of Colorado in collaboration with Coloradans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

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The ACLU of Colorado is the state’s oldest civil rights organization, protecting and defending the civil rights of all Coloradans through litigation, education and advocacy.



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