Editorial Support for Death Penalty Repeal
“We believe that death is an ineffective sentence for a society that should value life.”
“Reason and morality demand that the death penalty be abolished.
“There are many reasoned arguments against the death penalty, not the least of which is its uneven application. Similarly brutal murders can result in very dissimilar punishments, with a death sentence dependent more on where the killing took place than the details of the crime.
“But even without that troubling flaw, one argument stands immovable: There is no way to write the law to guarantee an innocent person is never executed.”
“The sporadic taking of life in the name of the state is not justice.”
“It’s time to acknowledge that the death penalty not only sucks time and resources from the criminal justice system, with the sentence ever more difficult to obtain even as it provides no discernible deterrence, but that the executions themselves are now problematic.”
“The fact that the jury couldn’t bring itself to put Holmes to death after finding him legally sane and thus knowing the difference between right and wrong speaks volumes about the outdated nature of the statute. And it confirms that the death penalty will continue to be applied with unconscionable randomness in this state — almost as if killers are assigned to death row by lottery.
“The radically inconsistent way in which the penalty is applied in this state is reason enough to abolish it. Other powerful reasons include the mind-boggling legal costs that pile up year after year and the fact that a death sentence keeps a killer in the news long after he should have become another nondescript prisoner.
“It’s time for Gov. John Hickenlooper, who called for a “conversation” on the death penalty two years ago, to actively get behind a bill for next year to get rid of it.”
“If the jury chooses a life sentence for Lewis, too, it will underline once more the farcically arbitrary nature of capital punishment in Colorado and the urgent need for the legislature and governor to repeal the statute.
“A sentence of death for Lewis, meanwhile, will also be awkward for death penalty proponents, whether they wish to admit it or not. And that’s because Lewis is black and Holmes is white — and the only three men now on death row also are black.
“Colorado briefly abolished capital punishment in 1897 but brought it back a few years later. It’s time to retire the penalty again — for good.”
“But if both verdicts in those cases are reasonable, what do they say about the death penalty statute in Colorado?
“They say that it’s in tatters.
“They say a prosecutor would have to be very reckless to seek the death penalty anytime soon in this state.
“They say it’s time to rethink whether we should have such a sentence on the books.
“The death penalty in Colorado has effectively expired. And it didn’t happen because of bleeding-heart lawmakers or activist judges. It happened because juries themselves wanted no part of it.”
“Like a growing number of people in the world, and Colorado, we agree that there’s no good argument for the death penalty. While this clever idea is hardly the best way to get rid of the state’s odious capital punishment practices, the measure underscores the fact that the death penalty is exorbitantly costly and equally as ineffective at preventing capital crimes.”
“The death penalty in states like Colorado has run its course. If courts, lawmakers or voters don’t stop human executions in the near future, complications from the act of inflicting lethal injections will make such sentences impossible to carry out. It took 20 years to even come close to carrying out a death sentence against Dunlap that last year was wisely called off by Gov. John Hickenlooper. Even if you are a fervent supporter of capital punishment, if it happens at all, it happens only after decades of pain for the victims and at a massive cost to taxpayers. “
“ The death penalty is not a deterrent to crime. This has been substantiated in numerous studies numerous times. Murder is almost always the result of severe psychological illness, drugs, alcohol or passion. None of those causes are affected by executions or any other laws.
“The death penalty is not equally or fairly applied in Colorado, or anywhere in the country. Murder for murder, it is a far greater percentage of poor minorities who are handed the death penalty than richer, whiter murderers. And in Colorado, every person on death row got there from an Arapahoe County court, even though murder cases arise across the state. Had Dunlap committed his sadistic crime anywhere but in Aurora, he would have been given life without parole.
“The death penalty is obscenely expensive. A recent study of the death penalty in Maryland shows that it costs about $3 million to bring a death penalty convict to the death chamber. The same capital case without the threat of death penalty costs about $1 million, according to the study. Death penalty states have spent billions of dollars on capital punishment systems since they were re-authorized in 1978.
“Even for those who have no qualms about killing people back for their crimes, the death penalty is ineffective because it simply takes so long to invoke. Not long ago, the average death sentence was 28 years, now down to about 18 years. A full 25 percent of capital punishment cases still die of natural causes before they make it to the death chamber. Dunlap killed four employees of the Aurora Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant in 1993. It took 20 years to pull a date for his execution last year.
“These are just some of the arguments that have prompted 18 states to end death sentences, and many others have stopped the practice defacto by using postponements.”
“The death penalty is not the “ultimate” punishment; it is nothing but repulsive revenge killing. The death penalty does not prevent other crimes. The death penalty does not provide a useful “bargaining” tool — it provides a token for extortion, which defense lawyers know how to wield to their own advantage. The death penalty is a barbaric fleecing of taxpayers, costing us hundreds of millions of dollars and not even delivering what proponents promise. The death penalty is unfairly and arbitrarily used, mostly against persons of color, even right here in Aurora and Colorado. It is, in effect, racism at its worst.And the scariest part? In more cases than most people would believe, it is won or carried out on innocent victims.
“Rather than pine for what is now gone, Aurora, and all of Colorado needs to return to where we were three years ago, and where we’ve been stalled ever since: finding a way to stop something like this from ever happening again. Justice, as much as there ever come from such an atrocity, has been delivered. Now it’s time make progress.”
Boulder Daily Camera
“We had hoped the death penalty would end here in Colorado, too. Not because we believe there are innocent men on death row at present, but because it highlights how arbitrary the penalty can be. Where one commits a crime seems to factor in more than anything at all; the color of a convict’s skin plays a role. Someone white could commit a heinous crime in Boulder and die in prison; if he were a young black man in Aurora committing the exact same crime, he might face death row.”
“We can acknowledge that sometimes, rarely, someone is wrongfully convicted of a terrible crime. We can acknowledge that the stress and horror of a wrongfully convicted person being sentenced to death is somehow worse or worth more in compensation than if the sentence were lighter.
“The next step should be to repeal Colorado’s death penalty. The justice system is run by human beings, who are fallible. There are several reasons to oppose the death penalty; the very idea that the state could kill an innocent person is the biggest one.”
“The fundamental dilemma is whether the role of the state is to administer punishment or to protect public safety. Imprisoning someone for his remaining days has an element of both, but the primary function is to keep society at large safe.
“While the victims and their survivors may experience some satisfaction in knowing that the attacker will suffer and die in payment for his crime, the prolonged procedural environment that accompanies the death penalty is demonstrably costly to those victims and their families. The emotional wound remains open for years through appeals and various legal rehashing of heinous and painful crimes: In Colorado, death penalty cases take an average of four years longer to complete than those seeking life without parole sentences. This process cannot help but remind victims and their families of their losses and forestall the road to healing.
“This might not be “justice” in the Old Testament sense, but it is in terms of public policy, which must weigh the costs and benefits of its tenets. The death penalty is financially, emotionally and morally costly – to no quantifiable benefit.”
“The list of places where capital punishment still is used is equally telling; it includes the entire Middle East except Israel, the northeast quadrant of Africa, North Korea plus Japan, China and the United States.
“The contrast is clear, and so is the trend. Both suggest that the discussion we should be having is not about how to conduct executions, but about whether this is the kind of nation we want it to be.”
“There are now 19 states that have outlawed the death penalty; there should be many more – for all the reasons that informed the Nebraska Legislature’s steadfast decision.
“Indeed, the death penalty is a practice without purpose. It does not pass the tests essential for ceding to the state such enormous power: Lives are not saved because of it, nor is money. Safety is not improved, nor is society.”