This is the statement that was entered into testimony at yesterday’s hearing on SB17-95 which proposed to repeal the death penalty in Colorado. That bill was postponed indefinitely at the hearing.
February 15, 2017
CHRISTIAN FAITH LEADERS SUPPORT ABOLISHING DEATH PENALTY IN COLORADO
As Christians and as leaders of a diverse coalition of churches across Colorado, we fully support SB17-95, sponsored by Sen. Lucia Guzman, which would abolish Colorado’s death penalty. In 2013, we issued a public policy statement on criminal justice system reform that included our position on the death penalty. According to that statement, we support any legislation that:
- eliminates the death penalty, and replaces it with the option of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole;
- places a moratorium on the death penalty; or
- reduces the number of offenses that may qualify for the death penalty.
We strongly believe that the current implementation of the death penalty in Colorado causes more harm than good, and that SB17-95 should pass the Colorado General Assembly and then be signed into law by Gov. Hickenlooper.
Section 1.2 of the bill’s legislative declaration states: “Colorado’s death penalty policy is a failed public policy.” This finding, together with Section 1.2(f)’s statement that “The death penalty is unfairly applied,” echoes our own observations. The principles and values of our Christian faith lead us to be deeply troubled by the way the death penalty is currently implemented in Colorado. An overwhelming number of capital cases have been brought by prosecutors in only one of Colorado’s twenty-two judicial districts. All of our state’s current death row inmates are African American. We do not believe that this drastic punishment should so heavily depend on where a crime takes place and the skin color of the alleged perpetrator.
Section 1.2(b), citing multiple miscarriages of justice and the potential harm to those innocently accused, clearly identifies why the system of capital punishment as it is now implemented is unjust.
In reference to the administration of lethal injections, Section 1.2(d) cites the complications arising from pharmaceutical protocols that are in flux. We find a system which has the potential to cause needless human suffering to be both cruel and immoral.
We prayerfully urge the Colorado General Assembly to pass SB17-095, and take this historic opportunity and make a moral choice that both champions equal justice under the law and minimizes the suffering of any person.
Bishop Jim Gonia, Rocky Mountain Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Bishop Karen Oliveto, Mountain Sky Episcopal Area, United Methodist Church
Rev. Vickie Samland, Western Plains District Representative, Church of the Brethren
Steve Van Ostran, D. Min., Executive Minister, American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains
The Board of Directors of the Colorado Council of Churches
Here’s a round-up of media coverage on the legislation:
2/15/17 – Durango Herald – Luke Perkins, Article
Colorado Senate Democrats attempt to repeal death penalty
Senate Democrats were looking to have Colorado join 19 other states that have eliminated the death penalty, but the measure died on a 3-2 party-line vote late Wednesday night.
2/15/17 – Denver Post – John Frank
Death penalty repeal fails once again in Colorado but sparks deeper conversation
An effort to repeal the death penalty in Colorado failed once again Wednesday, but the bill highlighted the contrasting opinions among Democratic lawmakers.
2/15/17 – Denver Post – Opinion
No, Colorado should not repeal the death penalty (2 letters)
2/16/17 – Colorado Politics- Peter Marcus, Article
Effort to eliminate the death penalty in Colorado fails in emotional hearing
An effort to eliminate the death penalty in Colorado was rejected by a legislative committee Wednesday night after an emotional hearing.
2/15/17 – Channel 4 ABC
Another Attempt To Repeal Colorado’s Death Penalty
2/15/17 – Colorado Statesman
Who has she lined up? Guzman set to make case for Colorado death penalty repeal