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February 8, 2007

A cost reallocation approach to DP abolition

Thanks to C&C, I see this fascinating AP report on a Colorado proposal to abolish the death penalty in order to free up monies to solve cold cases.  Here are some details:

A House committee voted Wednesday to abolish the death penalty and use the savings from prosecuting and defending death penalty cases to look at old unsolved cases after witnesses said they wanted police to catch the people who killed their loved ones.  Rep. Paul Weissmann, D-Louisville, said the money spent defending and prosecuting death penalty cases could be better used to resolve 1,200 unsolved murders since 1970.

Weissmann, a Democrat from Louisville, said the state could save about $2 million a year that is spent prosecuting and defending death penalty cases. He said only one person has been executed in Colorado since 1967. "To me, that's a terrible bang for the buck," Weissmann said.

The House Judiciary Committee approved the measure on a 7-4 vote and sent it to the House Appropriations Committee.

February 8, 2007 at 04:57 PM | Permalink

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Some footnotes.

A 7-4 committee vote is a bipartisan margin on the relevant committee.

Louisville is a bedroom community suburb with a mall between Boulder and Denver. It is swing vote territory, not a safe Democratic district.

The Governor of Colorado, Bill Ritter, is Denver's former District Attorney. It is unclear what the fate of the measure will be in his office. He is Catholic and, weakly, anti-abortion. But, he is not opposed to the death penalty.

Colorado has two people on death row right now. One killed multiple employees in a premeditated murder at a Chuckie Cheese restaurant. The other was facing a life sentence and killed a prison guard -- he is a "death penalty volunteer" who pled guilty and basically asked to be sentenced to death and waived (not entirely successfully) his appeals. The only man executed in Colorado was also a death penalty volunteer. Several hundred people have been sentenced to life in prison for murder in Colorado.

Many of those on death row had sentences communted because they were sentenced to death by judges rather than juries.

Posted by: ohwilleke | Feb 9, 2007 12:10:31 PM

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