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Cost, Deception & the Death Penalty: The Colorado Experience | Missouri Political News Service

Cost, Deception & the Death Penalty: The Colorado Experience

May 20th, 2009 by mopns · No Comments

Protesters gather outside the prison where Missouri’s first execution in nearly four years was held Tuessday, May 19, 2009, in Bonne Terre, Mo. Dennis Skillicorn, one of three men convicted of killing Excelsior Springs businessman Richard Drummond in 1994, was executed at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday at the prison. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

By Dudley Sharp

Death penalty opponents fashioned this argument: End the death penalty, they said, and we can use the $380,000/year(1), the alleged net cost excess of the death penalty, to fund cold case investigations, for 1400 Colorado unsolved murders.

From the beginning, this was, only, another anti death penalty effort. Plea bargains to a life sentence, only possible because of the presence of the death penalty, likely, would save more money (1).

By the end of the Colorado Legislative session, even for the most naive, all doubt was removed.

Some Senators had re written bill 1274, taken out the death penalty repeal and introduced constant funding for cold case investigations, through a statewide tariff attached to fines, fees and convictions. It passed.

Anti death penalty legislators said no. They re instated the death penalty repeal, in conference committee, even though they already had the cold case funds.

The next day, the last day of the session, the anti death penalty bill failed, just as death penalty opponents knew that it could, thus gutting the additional cold case funding. also part of bill 1274.

This was never about cold case funds. Had it been, death penalty opponents would have secured the funding, in conference committee, then voted for that funding, alone and jubilantly.

This was about repealing the death penalty, whose adherents knowingly sacrificed cold case funding, which, certainly, would have passed, absent the death penalty repeal re introduction.

How cynical did it get?

Death penalty opponent and Senate President Peter Groff stated “We’ve put some nice garnish (cold case funding) around it, but really what this is about is whether government should kill or not kill.” (2)

“Nice garnish.”

Nationwide strategy

Every few years, death penalty opponents create a new crisis, because their previous ones fail. Thus, the cost issue and, in Colorado, its coupling with cold case funding.

This year, there were, at least, 10 states, wherein death penalty opponents were using cost as their main repeal issue.

New Mexico will, likely, be the only state to repeal this year and started out, strong, with the cost mantra. Cost soon died, as an issue, because it was, blatantly, false.

The NM repeal succeeded only because more anti death penalty democrats were elected.

The “. . . Senate vote to repeal the death penalty in New Mexico was a direct result of November’s election of several new lawmakers.” The repeal bill’s sponsor, Rep. Gail Chase said she was able to get the bill through because the 2008 election added three more senators to the Democratic majority. District Attorney Lem Martinez, who had spoken against the repeal bill, said “the Senate vote was the result of Obama’s coattails.” (“Senate backs death-penalty repeal”, Steve Terrell, The (Santa Fe) New Mexican, 3/13/09). (3)

So goes death penalty opponents machinery of deception, until the next session.


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Tags: MO Legislature

0 responses so far ↓

  • 1 David Stokes // May 20, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Excellent article. Thanks for finding and posting it, Scooter.

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