January 28, 2020
Effort to End the Death Penalty in Colorado Advances
DENVER – Coloradans from across the state and sponsors on both sides of the aisle gathered to hear SB20-100 to Repeal The Death Penalty. After six hours of testimony, the bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a 3-2 vote.
“Yesterday’s testimony from faith leaders, an exoneree from death row, District Attorneys, corrections officers and, most significantly, family members who lost loved ones to murder, all 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 committee for hearing all voices.”
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.
In reference to the months of community engagement that followed last years efforts, Sen. Gonzales said, “I did all of that listening in order to bring this bill with the same goal in mind, but with a more intentional approach — one that centered the people directly impacted by the policy. Along with my co-prime sponsor, it is our intention to treat each other with dignity and respect every step of the way throughout this process.”
During a press conference and testimony, a dozen victim family members spoke out against a system that causes additional trauma. Linda Burks-Brown, whose brother, Willie Frazier, was murdered in Denver, read a letter from 66 victim family members calling for an end to the death penalty. The letter stated, “As you consider whether to keep or end Colorado’s death penalty, we urge you to make the choice that best serves the interests of victims’ families. We hope you will conclude what we have: that the death penalty fails victims’ families.”
A recently released ACLU of Colorado report: Ending A Broken System: Colorado’s Expensive, Ineffective and Unjust Death Penalty, highlighted 22 stories of families whose loved ones were murdered. Ezra Aldern, whose story was featured in the report testified, “I am here on my own volition as a private citizen and I am against the death penalty. For far too long, the death penalty has been a legal punishment in Colorado. Not only should death penalty no longer be a partisan issue, it should not be an issue at all.”
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/
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.