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Colorado Catholic Conference disappointed in senate’s failure to repeal death penalty

Colorado’s death penalty will remain part of state law until at least next year after a bill to repeal it was postponed April 2 until after the legislative session closes, effectively killing it.

Senate Bill 182 garnered bipartisan support as well as the backing of both Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and Colorado governor Jared Polis, but despite the apparent support on both sides of the aisle, proponents of the bill were not able to get the votes needed for it to pass.

Jenny Kraska, director of the Colorado Catholic Conference, expressed her disappointment in the senate’s failure to advance the bill.

“Pope Francis has reminded us that our nation’s leaders have a responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development,” Kraska said in a statement.  “The death penalty is a clear affront to the dignity and sanctity of human life that excludes the possibility of rehabilitation.  There are much less costly alternatives available to the State of Colorado that would both punish offenders and protect society.

The Denver Catholic recently published a joint Q&A between Archbishop Aquila and two of the bill’s primary sponsors, Senator Angel Williams (D) and Senator Kevin Priola (R), all of whom agreed that the death penalty is both unnecessary and impractical.

“Human life is inherently good, even if a person chooses to commit horrible crimes. In the past, in certain circumstances, the death penalty made sense, since society struggled to protect itself from people who committed murder,” Archbishop Aquila explained. “But our prison system has improved to the point that we are able to respect the dignity of human life and to protect society. Given this reality, Colorado should not perpetuate the cycle of violence by taking further life, especially when the death penalty’s effectiveness as a deterrent to crime is in doubt.”

Senator Williams added, “We know that the application of asking for the death penalty is applied in an inequitable fashion, and we have many reports, many studies to prove that. If you look at who’s on death row, there are three African Americans, all from Arapahoe County, all went to the same high school and all their cases were tried in the 18th Judicial District.”

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At the time, both senators said that the bill had a high likelihood of passing.

The Colorado Catholic Conference is hopeful that Colorado’s legislators will re-consider repealing the death penalty in the future. Sen. Williams has already said she plans to re-introduce the legislation next year.

“For the sake of our own humanity, we need to turn away from a mistaken idea of justice based — in practice —on further and unneeded violence,” Kraska said “We pray that someday soon our legislators will have the wisdom and courage to end the death penalty in Colorado.”

Aaron Lambert
Aaron Lambert
Aaron is the Managing Editor for the Denver Catholic.

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