State following national trend
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Following in the footsteps of at least a half-dozen other states, Colorado lawmakers this week will start considering a bill that would repeal the death penalty.
The measure was introduced in the Colorado Legislature this week, and got some immediate support from a group of 30 family members of Colorado murder victims, including Robert Autobee, whose son Eric was a prison guard and killed by an inmate.
Autobee was a prison guard himself and strongly supported capital punishment before his son’s murder. The capital punishment proceedings changed his mind.
“We spent more than 10 years and the state has spent millions trying to get death,” Autobee said. “We have decades of proceedings and appeals to go, so it gives my wife and I no time to focus on healing or working to stop violence in prisons.”
“As lawmakers consider whether to keep or end Colorado’s death penalty, we urge them to make the choice that best serves the interests of victims’ families,” the letter states. “We hope they will conclude what we have: that the death penalty fails victims’ families.”
Among the sponsors of the bill is Sen. Lucia Guzman, who lost her father in a brutal attack.
“I saw the way death penalty proceedings can divide family members,” Guzman said. “Years of proceedings and conflict can be very painful.”
House sponsor Claire Levy said the bill to repeal the death penalty follows a national trend of rethinking the expensive and legally arbitrary act. The same day her bill was introduced, Maryland’s House of Delegates passed a repeal measure – the governor’s anticipated signature on that bill will make them the sixth state in as many years to repeal capital punishment.
“The death penalty is a failed public policy,” Levy said. “It fails on legal grounds in that it is arbitrarily applied, it fails to recognize we make mistakes, it fails to save taxpayer dollars, and it fails to give victims the swift legal resolution they deserve. That’s why so many states are moving away from the death penalty.”
House Bill 1264 will not be retroactive, meaning it will not affect any crime committed before July 2013.