Thursday, April 30, 2009

Senate Committee Backs Death Penalty Repeal

A Senate committee approved Wednesday a bill that would repeal Colorado's death penalty.

HB 1274 gained the backing of all three Democrats on the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee. Both Republican members voted "no."

The measure, which would re-route money currently appropriated to carry out capital sentences to cold case investigations, has already passed through the House of Representatives.

Colorado voters have twice voted for a state death penalty law, most recently in 1974.

The state has executed one person in the last 40 years.

Proponents of the bill argue that the death penalty does not deter crime and that the state's 1,400 unsolved murder cases cannot be brought to closure without additional funds.

Senate sponsor Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, said at the hearing on the bill Wednesday that she thinks it would save the state about $1 million per year. Most of that money would be appropriated to the Cold Case Investigation unit at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

The final vote on HB 1274 in the House was very close, with a 33-32 tally moving it over to the Senate.