Voices

The death penalty is an issue that affects many people from a variety of backgrounds.  Everyone has their own personal feelings about capital punishment and how they got there, whether it be through education, faith or experience.  Here is a sampling of voices highlighting their reasons for advocating repeal of the death penalty.

Victims Families

Amy Plapp

“My brother, Steve Plapp, was brutally murdered at home in his apartment by a stranger, a little over 20 years ago. He was 36 years old and he loved people and music and baseball and life. He had a big personality and 1,000 friends. He was my big brother and in many ways a larger than life figure for me.

“When we got the news that he had been murdered, at first it was impossible to understand or accept. How could someone so vital, who had been around for my whole life, be gone? My brother’s killer was found in a matter of days thanks to the dedication of two police detectives.

“I’ve spoken to other homicide survivors who had difficult experience with law enforcement, but ours was very good. Those detectives spent hours with us answering all of our questions, talking over the crime, and helping us to understand what had transpired. They were kind and compassionate beyond measure.

“They told us apologetically that although my brother’s killing was a capital offense, it was not a heinous enough crime to warrant the death penalty. Our family would likely have not wanted to go through a death penalty process, but it was still off-putting to be told that our loss wasn’t heinous enough. It is sad that the nature of the justice system puts folks in the position of having to hear this distinction made about their loved ones.

“Over the years, I have closely watched other high-profile murder cases unfold in the media. Often, there are calls for the death penalty. You cannot imagine how you will react in response to the murder of a loved one, and I would never presume to judge someone for their personal reaction to such a loss.

“But my observation is that when there is a death sentence the victim’s family members often do not seem to find the comfort or closure that they were promised. They may be stuck in a legal process that goes on for decades. And if it does come to the expected conclusion, there is no guarantee that they will, in fact, feel the kind of peace that they were looking for.”

Excerpt from testimony on 2013 hearing for death penalty abolition bill

Arlis Keller

“Three years ago last November in another state, one of my brothers was killed by his wife. Over the following months she used his cell phone and e-mail to send messages to their adult children and my parents leading them to believe he was alive and well.

“His death was discovered several months later by police whose investigation of his disappearance began when my niece, their daughter, filed a missing persons report.

“After several weeks of intense investigation, the horror of the brutality in which my brother died was discovered. His wife had apparently shot him, then dismembered his body and scattered the remains across three counties of that state. His remains were identified by using DNA samples from my parents. The murder trial is scheduled for this summer. She is facing the death penalty.

“Killing someone else will not bring my brother back to life. Death penalty cases take much longer to go to trial than non-death penalty cases. The trial for my brother’s murder case is set to begin three years after my niece filed the missing persons report. Since then we have been trying to deal with the grief and anguish of what happened to him, while the uncertainty of not knowing how this will be resolved hangs over us.

“If my brother’s wife is sentenced to death for her actions, we will have to face years, perhaps decades, of mandatory appeals. My brother’s grandsons who are now 4 and 2 years old, will have to grow up with the details of this horrific tragedy repeatedly thrust upon their lives by the appeals process throughout their childhoods.

“I will never know what my brother would think of the death sentence for his killer. I can say with certainty that he loved his children deeply and adored the grandson he knew. I know for sure that he would not want them to have to experience a long painful ordeal that years of appeals will cause.

“I would not wish the pain and grief my family has endured the past three years on anyone. Our ordeal will be compounded if we are forced to deal with years of appeals that are imperative to the judicial process of a death penalty sentence. I truly wish a portion of the money that has been spent on this case so far, could have been used to help my family heal.

“Repealing the death penalty in Colorado will have no effect on the outcome of the murder trial of my brother’s wife. It would, however, prevent other families from having to go through the prolonged emotionally draining ordeal we are going through.”

Excerpt from testimony on 2013 death penalty abolition bill

Linda Gruno

“(I’m here for) my sister who was killed on Christmas Day 1998. She was 44 years-old. She was a lawyer, and she was murdered by someone she was trying to help.

“I don’t know of a single case — and I have looked through some peer-reviewed journals, because I work in a library — about people who actually had great, peaceful sense of satisfaction after the person who murdered their loved one was executed; there’s a sense of emptiness there as well. And is that worth it? You know, that’s a hard one, too. You know, execution is not justice, it’s revenge. And the human spirit doesn’t flourish from revenge.

“I really am upset, too, about how the District Attorneys love to have the death penalty to use as kind of a bargaining chip, or to barter with accused murderers. And I really think that’s really a vile aspect of what they have to do, because a human life should not be bartered with, you know. It’s absurd.

“We — you know, if we do have — I would like to think that in this State, we have developed a collective higher consciousness of about if we want things to be one way, we have to honor that, too. We don’t want people to kill, we should not execute them.”

Excerpts from testimony given on 2013 death penalty abolition bill

Bob Autobee

“When my son, corrections officer Eric Autobee, was murdered, I still supported the death penalty and it seemed proper justice that they would seek the ultimate punishment for his offender.

“That was the old me, before I learned and experienced how the system really doesn’t work. It has been a nightmare. Given what I know now, I can no longer support Colorado’s broken death penalty system. What’s more, I will work to end it to ensure that our resources are better used and no family ever has to go through what my wife and I have endured.

“I understand the law, and I appreciate the need for us to be thorough, especially when a life is on the line. This thoroughness in death penalty cases means agony for families like mine that can’t move forward because we have to stay vigilant to the process.

“If the ultimate punishment in our case had been life without parole, my wife and I could be focusing on more important things like our healing and working to stop violence in our prisons.

“As a victim’s father who has been trapped in the labyrinth of the death penalty, and after seeing the real misuse of resources, I am begging our elected officials to do away with our broken death penalty system.

“Colorado can do better by our corrections officials, and we can do much better by victims.

“I hope that we do.”

Opinion piece published in the Pueblo Chieftain, February 10, 2013

Attorneys and Judges

Lindy Frolich

“I’d like to share with you my piece with regard to that (cost), because I don’t think anybody else can address it quite the way I can.

So we did some calculations to the best of our abilities. And what we’ve looked at is the past couple of years and figured out that the average cost of a first degree murder case is approximately $16,000. And what essentially we’ve done is taken all of the first degree murder cases where an Alternate Defense Counsel lawyer has represented a defendant, and taken the amount of money we’ve spent on those and come up with that figure. So obviously, there’s some cases that cost more money than that and some cases that cost less money than that. We’ve attempted to do the same thing with the cases where either the State is seeking, or has successfully sought the death penalty in the past two years in the State of Colorado. Some of those have multiple different cases pending with regard to those, and I’ll talk about that in a minute. And the average yearly cost for a death penalty case is $400,000.

So I think that sums it up fairly easily. It’s very expensive. I know there’ll be some talk of other agencies, what it costs. But I think the thing and the piece that I can bring to you, folks, is that we – because we don’t operate on an FTE, we don’t have full-time employees. We operate solely by independent contractors.

We pay the lawyers, investigators, paralegals, for every hour that they work on whatever case it is that they’re assigned to.

The number of hours they spend working on a death penalty case compared to what they would have to spend on a first degree murder case where there’s no question of whether the death penalty could even be sought, is significantly different.

So the bottom line, on average, based on my numbers, a death penalty case is at least 25 times more expensive than a first degree murder case where the death penalty is not sought.”

Director of the Office of the Alternate Defense Counsel
Excerpts from testimony given on 2013 death penalty abolition bill

David A. Lane

“The death penalty will drag victims along for a two-decade nightmarish ride which may or may not end at the death house. I have seen victim’s families beg prosecutors to end the madness with a life plea and be done with it, to no avail, as some politicians/prosecutors are simply in love with the death penalty. The false hope that healing will begin, or end, with an execution is foisted upon desperate victims by unscrupulous prosecutors who should know better but seek the death penalty as free self-promotion.”

David A. Lane is an attorney with Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP, in Denver. Opinion piece published in the Denver Post, August 25, 2012

Stan Garnett

“Our history has shown that such a perfect system is not possible anywhere, and that endlessly tinkering with a system devised by human beings to try to make it absolutely flawless is impossible. As Justice Blackmun said in his famous decent in 1994, Trying to get the procedure for the death penalty exactly right is nothing more than tinkering with the machinery of death, and I suggest that’s a hopeless exercise, and it’s unseemly for a civilized society.

Colorado has discussed the appropriateness of the death penalty since statehood. It was repealed in 1897. The Colorado District Attorney’s Council unanimously recommended its repeal in 1965, although that organization remains neutral today. And this is a debate that we’ve continued to have for many years.

Colorado has a fair and effective justice system. We should all be proud of it. The death penalty is not a practical or an important part of it, and it should be repealed.”

District Attorney, 20th Judicial District of Colorado
Excerpts from testimony given on 2013 death penalty abolition bill

Judge Joe Bellipani

“Some people want revenge, some people want money, some people want various things; punishment, out of the process. There are some consistent things though, if you listen to the victims. One of the things they want is resolution. One of the things they don’t want is interminable litigation. They want things to be over. They need closure for things to be done. The death penalty, by its nature, makes that impossible. It’s going to be a very long time before anybody gets closure. And that means that the victim’s family has to sit there and listen to, now there’s this appeal, then there’s that appeal, now this other thing has happened, now we’re ready, no we’re not. And that is a very important thing. You are — you are making the victims’ families suffer, which is what nobody wants to do.”

Former Chief Judge, 20th Judicial District of Colorado
Excerpts from testimony given on 2013 death penalty abolition bill

Judge Leland Anderson

“In the years since my days on the bench, I have had much time to reflect on the experience of judging another person’s life or death. The conclusion I have reached is that I can no longer support the death penalty, even though I once voted in favor of executing a man. I would not go so far as to suggest my vote was a mistake under law, but I can affirmatively state that it was a moral decision that seemed right at the time.

But now my previous decisions are laden with moral ambiguity and self-doubt. Years of reflection, meditation, and prayer on the subject have crystalized my thinking on the death penalty. What I have finally come to realize is that I cannot support the death penalty because what I hold dearest in life is the promise of redemption.

I once concluded that a man’s life should be extinguished under law. I now find myself praying that this man will become a better man, a more goodly person, and a more caring human being as a result of his life being spared by operation of law.

Rather than acting as a force for life, hope, and redemption, the law resorts to an anti-life solution in trials where the participants may flail toward nobility and humanity, but ultimately become victims themselves, processed through a crucible of despair. In my autumn years, I choose to believe in redemption. The law in its most vindictive, retributive form is relentless, cruel, and intemperate and angry.

I wish to amend the record of my moral choices, and add my name to those who seek abolition of the death penalty, and life imprisonment rather than death for those facing the most stern and grave sanction of the law. If the endless cycle of retribution and violence is to be stopped in our society, it should begin with the law itself.”

Former Jefferson County District Court Judge
Excerpts from testimony submitted on 2013 death penalty abolition bill

Karen Steinhauser

“I don’t have the statistics about deterrents. I don’t have statistics about anything. I just have my 31 years of experience in the criminal justice system. I do not believe for a minute that the death penalty is a deterrent, but I also don’t believe that life in prison is a deterrent. I believe that these things are punishment, and I think we have to call it what it is. It is punishment. It is in no way a deterrent.

I wanted to address the financial and emotional burdens that go with a death penalty case. First of all, in terms of the financial hardship and the burdens on the system, at the time that I was prosecuting a death penalty in Denver, we had two death penalty cases going on. The prosecutors who do death penalty cases, just like the defense attorneys, are the most — are the most probably experienced, and the ones who are in a position to help train the younger lawyers, people who, you know, do a lot of the case work there. The burden that it put on all of the other deputies, because we weren’t there to be doing the jobs to be able to help them do their jobs, was tremendous.

The burdens that it put on investigators, because all of our investigators had to be out interviewing witnesses, traveling across the country, getting other aggravating evidence to be able to present in the death penalty phase. The victim advocates that were working with the victims. I mean, the resources were so taxed, and I truly believe that other cases and other victims suffered as a result.

Nobody’s talked about the emotional toll of trying a death penalty case. The effect that it had on all of the lawyers in the system — I mean, we were in trial for over five weeks. And I always — not joked, but I always said we spent more time, my co-counsel and I, trying to figure out how to kill this man, or how to get the jury to kill this man, than he ever did in his crime.

But the emotional toll that that it took on the lawyers, the emotional toll that it took on everybody in the system, including the jurors. We had jurors who ended up separating from their spouses. We had single parents who ended up giving up custody of their children during this process because emotionally they could not deal with what was going on in the courtroom. Walking into the courtroom, people would say you could just smell death.”

Criminal defense attorney, former prosecutor in the Denver District Attorney’s Office for 20 years, former adjunct law professor at the University of Denver. Excerpts from testimony given on 2013 death penalty abolition bill

Elected Officials

State Senator Polly Baca

I represent the Colorado Latino Forum. At our last public policy summit where we had several hundred people in attendance, this issue (the death penalty) was before the Forum — the members of the Colorado Latino Forum, and we determined that we would support the repeal of the death penalty at that summit.

As a member of the Forum, we know, and I think you all have realized that the death penalty is not consistently, or fairly, or uniformly applied. It does impact more members who are — people who are members of minority groups, specifically Latinos and African Americans, as demonstrated by those who are – who happen to be on death row at the present time.

The death penalty has not been uniformly applied, it has not always been fair, those who are charged do not always have good representation. There are those that have been given the death penalty that were later on exonerated and were declared innocent.”

Excerpts from testimony given on 2013 death penalty abolition bill

Gail Schoettler

Recently, we’ve been having second thoughts about the death penalty, based on the number of convicted people who have been proven innocent by DNA testing and by doubts about the humanity of lethal injection, which may be, in reality, excruciatingly painful and cruel.

No one should be imprisoned or executed because of false testimony, incompetent investigators, withheld evidence or inept attorneys. Today, DNA gives us a tool that must always be used to determine guilt or innocence, whatever the cost.

As we reconsider the cases of those wrongly accused and convicted, perhaps it’s time to also re-evaluate whether the death penalty is appropriate in a country that values justice and human rights. If even one innocent person is executed, it is one too many. If we want to demonstrate our own humanity, maybe it’s time to consider other means of punishing violent criminals, besides the spectacle of a nearly public execution.”

Gail Schoettler (gailschoettler@email.msn.com) is a former U.S. ambassador and Colorado lieutenant governor. Opinion piece published in the Denver Post, January 24, 2008

Susan Thornton

I had often reviewed the intellectual arguments about it. Is the death penalty sometimes justified? Probably yes, my intellect said. Some murders are so horrific that the death penalty is undoubtedly well-deserved.

But faced with the possibility of having to vote on the ultimate punishment, I wavered. Others might cite religious reasons for opposing the death penalty, or the fact that minorities are more frequently sentenced to die than whites, or that sometimes juries make mistakes.

For me, the argument came down to this: If I voted for the death penalty, how would I feel when the time for execution approached? Could I watch the clock edge toward midnight, knowing I had contributed to the death of another person?

Susan Thornton (smthornton@aol.com) served 16 years on the Littleton City Council, eight as mayor. And a potential juror on the Robert Ray case. Opinion piece published in the Denver Post, May 9, 2009

State Rep. Angela Williams

But, when it comes to the death penalty, we have a long way to go.

The death penalty is an ugly stain on an otherwise great state. Modern Colorado should be bigger than that. Yet we’re stuck in another era of antiquated “crime and punishment” models. In reality, Colorado’s citizens are being punished, guilty from our unnecessary association with an unnecessary act of government-sanctioned violence.

Repealing Colorado’s death penalty is both sound logic and clear moral judgment. When we witness its current application, we see 19th and 20th century Colorado intruding on forward-thinking, progressive Colorado: For example, all three men currently awaiting execution are African-American.

Something is wrong with that picture.

We can be smart about the death penalty by repealing it, or we can continue to blindly believe a quick fix in the heat of an emotive moment can make the pain go away. In reality, it doesn’t. But, getting rid of it can give us the valuable space we need to heal.”

State Rep. Angela Williams represents Colorado’s 7th legislative district. Opinion piece published in the Denver Post, March 17, 2013

Law Enforcement

Allen Ault

“During all of my time in serving in the capacity as a Director, my fellow staff and I were blessed not to have carried out the death sentence. After leaving Colorado, I later became Commissioner of Corrections in Georgia, where death sentencings were more common. I learned from participating in five executions that the death penalty can cause real trauma to the prison officials whose job it was to carry out the state’s ultimate sanction.

I write you today in hopes that you will vote to real the death penalty, and none of the good men and women serving in Colorado Corrections will be made to participate in an execution.”

Regardless of the act perpetrated by the condemned, it has an extreme detrimental impact to watch a man die because of your actions. After each execution, we made psychological help available to the execution team. I made sure they received this.

Eventually, I had to avail myself of the services, but the flashbacks will haunt me to today. Men from all over the country have come to me for counseling, sharing stories of demons that hunt them. I now speak out against the death penalty on behalf of the many who have participated in executions, and have been traumatized by the experience.

The trauma that many correctional officials endure at the hands of the state and forces them to participate in executions in oftentimes overlooked. There can be — there can even be a sense of shame. There are brave, strong individuals who devote their lives to keeping society safe and ensuring laws are followed. For many of them, it feels wrong to complain about having to carry out a law, even if the law harms them.

If I thought for a moment that we needed the death penalty for its deterrent effect or to keep correction officials safe, I would certainly render my stance against the death penalty, but there is no empirical evidence that shows the death penalty keeps society safe. In fact, violent crimes and homicide rates have much higher percentages in states with the death penalty than they are in Canada, Western Europe, and the 17 states where the death penalty has been abolished.

I have heard many speak out about the death penalty as necessary to keep corrections officials safe. The contrary evidence from the past few decades has revealed that 98 percent of prison deaths have occurred in states with the death penalty. Any corrections professional will tell you that what keeps prisons safe are effective policies, well-trained staff, and resources to ensure you are never understaffed, as part of my testimony reflected earlier.

I can assure you that corrections officials don’t need the death penalty for safety. I can also assure you that many others like me who have suffered as a result of the death penalty laws. If the only purpose — and finally, if the only purpose for the death penalty turns out to be for society’s revenge, then the old adage applies: If revenge is sought, one needs to dig two graves; one for the condemned and one of the executioner, because it will destroy you. Mine is a psychological grave. I wouldn’t wish my nightmares on anyone.”

Former Colorado Department of Corrections director Allen Ault, testimony submitted for 2013 death penalty abolition bill

Henry D. Allen, Jr.

“There are several reasons why, as someone who has both served in the criminal justice system and has served in the greatest Armed Forces in the history of the world, I oppose the death penalty. The death penalty does not deter crime. If so, in Arapahoe County, where all three Colorado death row inmates were sentenced, there would never have been another capital crime, nor another murder and we know that not to be the case.

As a former law enforcement officer, I know it’s important not to just arrest someone for a crime, but to arrest the person that actually committed it. As a civil rights activist, I know however that when you make a mistake and execute the wrong person for a crime, there’s no way to right that wrong.

We also know that 60 percent of those who are exonerated are African Americans or Hispanics. Further, we know that there are more African American and Hispanic people on death row then there should numerically be. When it comes to race, as when it comes to many other standards,the death penalty has shown itself to be unfair.

Even when police, prosecutors, judge, and defense attorneys, whether it’s private or court-appointed counsel, do their job professionally and in good faith, mistakes will be made. Innocent people will be convicted. It’s hard to imagine a greater tragedy. At least with — excuse me, with life without parole, there’s a chance to reopen the case, look at the evidence, because — but death is irreversible.”

Henry D. Allen, Jr., President of the Colorado Springs brand of the NAACP, retired law enforcement officer, and retired Army First Sergeant. Excerpts from testimony given on 2013 death penalty abolition bill

Academics

Mary Dodge

“The financial and emotional costs for families, jurors, attorneys, and judges are too high a price in difficult economic times. More sensible spending of the estimated $4 million dollars annually that Colorado uses on the death penalty is an investment in decreasing potential crimes from undetected perpetrators.”

Mary Dodge is an associate professor at the School of Public Affairs, University of Colorado Denver. Opinion Piece published in the Denver Post, March 23, 2009

Pat Furman

“We’ve got a system that is devised by humans and that is administered by humans, and we’re going to make mistakes. That’s just a given. We know we’re going to make mistakes. At the same time, of course, we can’t simply throw out the entire system because we’re not perfect. If we threw out everything that wasn’t perfect, then we’d have to throw out everything. But what is fundamentally different about the death penalty than every other form of punishment is of course that it is irreversible.

The question then becomes, of course, how often does that happen?

Studies by the University of Michigan and Northwestern University have documented 1,074 over the past 20 years. That’s basically one-a-week over the last 20 years, and the number grows every week. Now, the Death Penalty Information Center, which monitors exonerations from death row, has found over 142.

There’s only one way to make sure that we don’t execute innocent people and that’s to do away with and abolish the death penalty in Colorado.”

Pat Furman, Clinical Professor of law at the University of Colorado School of Law and Board Member of the Colorado Innocence Project. Excerpts from testimony given on 2013 death penalty abolition bill

Exonerees

Tim Masters

“I can assure you that prison is serious punishment. Prison is daily degradation, isolation, humiliation, fear, disease, desperation and depression for anyone … innocent or guilty. Prison is the destruction of your soul, your self, your family. Anyone who says we can’t punish without the death penalty does not understand the realities of prison.

Our justice system will never be flawless. Innocent people like myself will be convicted of terrible crimes in the future and, while there is a death penalty, innocent people will be executed. We are not just unfortunate casualties in the war against crime; we are your family, your neighbors, and your fellow citizens.

The death penalty needs to be repealed. We can keep our communities safe and punish terrible offenders with life imprisonment, all the while ensuring we never send an innocent man to his grave.”

Tim Masters received $10 million from Larimer County and the city of Fort Collins for his wrongful conviction and imprisonment. Opinion piece published in the Denver Post, February 13, 2013

Former Jurors

Nate Becker

“The millions of taxpayer dollars spent seeking the death penalty instead of improving and updating corrections facilities, providing better law enforcement and corrections training, improving mental health treatment or trying to prevent violent crime are shameful. Having a death penalty does not prevent crime. It simply costs the people of Colorado millions of dollars and somehow gives us some false sense of security and justice.

My thoughts on the death penalty have forever changed. I was supportive of it until this trial ended. I have now realized how easy it is for people to be wrongfully convicted and wrongfully put to death as a result. Being locked up in a cage like an animal for every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year of every decade is much worse than death.

Most important, it ensures we don’t take the lives of people who are in fact not guilty or wrongfully convicted. It should be our priority as human beings and as a society to ensure that we demand more of our criminal justice system and demand that we get it right. Until our system of justice gets it right 100 percent of the time, the death penalty should be abolished.”

Nate Becker was a juror in the trial for Edward Montour. He works for a DUI defense firm and is a member of the Colorado Defense Bar but is not an attorney. Opinion piece published in the Denver Post, March 16, 2014

Advocates

Nathan Woodliff-Stanley

“The role of the State is not to enact vengeance. The role of the State is to protect public safety and welfare while upholding our civil rights and liberties. The death penalty adds nothing to public safety. When needed for public safety, permanent incarceration serves just as well and it is swifter justice. The death penalty is useless and possibly counterproductive as a deterrent to crime, and there are multiple surveys of law enforcement professionals that bear this out.

The death penalty cannot undo the past, but it drags out the pain of the past for victim families in a slow and expensive process. And painfully, sometimes, it can even turn murderers into celebrities, which becomes something painful for the families.

I would add that if we look around the world at the nations with the worst abuses of civil liberties, they are often the same nations that use the death penalty. These include China, Syria, Iran, North Korea, Iraq, Cuba, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia. I want to ask, is that the company that we want to keep?”

Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, Executive Director of the ACLU of Colorado. . Excerpts from testimony given on 2013 death penalty abolition bill

Anna Adler

“Colorado’s death penalty is a failed public policy that cannot be repaired. The death penalty extracts a huge toll on the families of murder victims, is unfairly applied, and costs millions in taxpayer dollars. CCDB recognizes that the death penalty is an unjust punishment in all circumstances.

The death penalty is arbitrary, capricious and purely retributive in nature. Numerous studies demonstrate that it does not deter crime. It serves no penal purpose more effectively than the less severe punishment of life imprisonment. To the extent that the deliberate extinguishment of human life by the government has any effect at all, it lowers our respect for life and brutalizes our values.

The death penalty is unjust, uncivilized, and inconsistent with the fallibility of our justice system. Since its reinstatement by the US Supreme Court in 1973, over a thousand people have been executed in the United States. During the same time, more than 120 people sentenced to death have been exonerated and others have had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment because of serious doubts about their guilt. Some have been tragically executed despite serious questions concerning their innocence.

CCDB supports the abolition of the death penalty because no amount of tinkering can rescue it from its inherent flaws.”

Anna Adler, Executive Director of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar

Carla Turner

“There are so, so many reasons to oppose the death penalty – – here in Colorado, one of the major concerns is how random and arbitrary its application is. We have a death row comprised of three African American men from Arapahoe County, all of whom were lacking in financial resources.

Anyone with a conscience will be disturbed by the number of people who are wrongly convicted and sentenced to death. More than 150 exonerations from death row – – executions of people later determined to be innocent. I cannot and will not tolerate the long-premeditated deaths of blameless people so that the vengeance of capital punishment can continue.

The death penalty has many other innocent victims as well – – the families of defendants, the prison employees who have to carry out the executions in our names, the wardens who have these deaths on their heart for a lifetime.

The death penalty costs too much – – not just in dollars but in human potential and redemption and innocent lives. In our own best interests, let’s invest in LIFE, in the lives of families and victims and prison guards and, yes, prison inmates.”

Carla Turner, Executive Director of Coloradans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty