Raising Awareness of Death Penalty Failure in Colorado

March 16, 2013

By Conor Boyle,
Coloradans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
– March 18, 2013 –

The Centennial State is poised to follow Maryland as an abolition state. Recent years have been turbulent for Coloradans due to multiple homicides, an upcoming execution, and high-profile exonerations. The multifaceted consequences of the death penalty are manifested through the many stories heard by those most affected by the death penalty.

These stories that shed light on the failures of capital punishment will be heard before the state assembly on March 19. The stories of Tim Masters and Robert Dewey, two recently exonerated men that were wrongfully convicted in Colorado, will be heard before the legislature. They were facing life sentences but were released after discovery of their innocence. This failure casts doubts on a system that seems to function well, but which robbed them of decades of their lives for crimes they did not commit. Both are now speaking out against the death penalty because they would not be alive today if they were convicted of capital crimes.

Their stories are joined by the growing number of law enforcement personnel and researchers that continue to grow uneasy with this broken system. Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnet reflected on the findings of a recent study: “What is the point of a penalty that is only sought in a tiny percentage of the cases where it could be sought, or where geography is a factor in whether it is sought? Obviously, the risk of race or other subjective factors being considered (or appearing to be considered) in selecting who is put to death is significant.”

Legislators are convinced that the time to act to end the death penalty is now, and they are working to introduce a bill in the Colorado Senate this spring. “We’re just putting the finishing touches on it,” State Senator and co-sponsor Lucia Guzman said. “The odds of it passing are very good. We feel like we have the votes in the Senate.” Legislators agree that the House vote will be much closer.

The most important voices surrounding this issue are those few consider when reflecting on the death penalty – the victims’ family members. People from all over Colorado will share their reasoning for why they deserve more attention and resources than the perpetrator. The justice system should focus on repairing a community reeling from trauma.

These stories are being heard. Their impact is stirring people to act. Coloradans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty Foundation (CADPF), Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN), and the Colorado Catholic Conference (CCC) are working together to make sure Catholics are aware of this issue, and that their action is imperative. Every weekend, parishes around Colorado are visited by a growing number of volunteers, ranging in age from 17 to 70, discussing the death penalty and requesting action. Hundreds of legislative cards are being completed, ready to show legislators that mobilized Catholics cannot be ignored.

If you are a resident of Colorado, review CMN’s legislative talking points for your state (in English or Spanish). Thmake sure your voice is heard and contact your legislator today. Let your voice join that of the many Catholics already stirred to action.

If you would like members of CADPF to visit your church or Respect Life Group, please contact Conor Boyle by e-mail or call (720) 272-2591.

Editorial Note: A summary of Catholic teaching and legislative talking points for Colorado has been prepared by CMN. They are available in English and Spanish.

This article first appeared in the CMN March 2013 Newsletter.