BY ISN STAFF | March 25, 2020
Colorado became the 22nd U.S. state to abolish capital punishment on Monday after Governor Jared Polis signed death penalty repeal bill SB 20-100 into law and commuted the sentences of the three men currently on the state’s death row to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“By outlawing the death penalty, Colorado has taken a critical step toward respecting the dignity of human life,” said Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, executive director of Catholic Mobilizing Network, the national Catholic organization working to end the death penalty and promote restorative justice. “Colorado joins the growing ranks of repeal states, affirming our nation’s desire for more restorative responses to crime and harm and adding to the continued momentum toward death penalty abolition across the U.S.”
Colorado is the third state in as many years to abolish capital punishment, as well as the third to stamp out the practice since the August 2018 revision to the Catholic Catechism which declared the death penalty “inadmissible” in all cases. All told, two-thirds of all states have either formally abolished capital punishment or otherwise have not carried out an execution in more than a decade.
Public opposition to capital punishment continues to rise, with more Americans becoming aware of how the practice targets vulnerable populations, is applied in a racially biased and unfair manner, risks executing innocent people, and harms victims’ families.
The Catholic Bishops of Colorado commended the House’s passage of SB 20-100 on February 26 (Ash Wednesday), including in their official statement a quote from Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Rodriguez of Denver, who testified in support of the death penalty repeal bill before both the Senate and House Judiciary Committees.
“The Catholic Church,” Bishop Rodriguez said in his testimony, “has long taught that every person, whether they are unborn, sick, or sinful, has a God-given dignity that cannot be erased or taken away. Yes, it can be marred, but it cannot be blotted out in the eyes of God.”
“Catholic Mobilizing Network believes that no matter the harm one has caused or suffered, each person ought to be treated with dignity and have the opportunity for redemption and healing,” added Vaillancourt Murphy. “Today, Colorado makes that possible.”