Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Time To End the Death Penalty?

New Jersey’s state legislature is working on a bill that would eliminate the death penalty in that state. In its place would be a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for the most heinous murderers.

New Jersey hasn’t executed anyone since 1963, so it’s probably past time for it to make official what has been happening in practice for nearly 45 years.

But it could be time for Colorado to look at the same idea.

In the four-and-a-half decades since New Jersey executed its last murderer, Colorado has put just two criminals to death.

Meanwhile, other prisoners on our state’s lightly populated death row are prolonging their lives through what seem like endless appeals and challenges.

Death penalty supporters and opponents both make compelling arguments.
Opponents believe executing the wrong person (which happens), even once, is a kind of state-sponsored barbarism civilized societies shouldn’t tolerate.

Supporters, and there are plenty, believe that sometimes people commit crimes so horrifying that the perpetrators deserve to forfeit their own lives.

There are individuals on this editorial board who can forcefully argue both sides of the argument.

But the bottom line is this: With the exception of the few states that have streamlined the way their death penalty cases are handled, the inevitable and, to some, interminable, appeals are tremendously expensive.

Add in the fact that several states are now involved in lawsuits over how “humane”execution by lethal injection is, and the cost per death row prisoner is higher still.

Statistics indicate it’s less expensive to lock up a murderer for the rest of his (or her) life than it is to successfully prosecute a death penalty state.

Given that fact, and adding that spending several decades in prison can in no way be construed as an easy ride, it might be time to decide to just lock up our most violent offenders and throw away the key.

That’s what happens virtually all the time anyway.


1 comment:

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