The High Costs of Capital Punishment May Deter States

February 13 2009, 9:41 AM

At the state Capitol in New Mexico, Randy Steidl, a formerly condemned inmate, warns that "sooner or later, New Mexico will execute an innocent person, if they haven't already." Count him as part of a movement in at least six other states across the nation, including Colorado, to abolish the death penalty, according to The Associated Press. The fight to repeal capital punishment has been ongoing for several years now. What's different this time around is that states are strapped for cash, giving death-penalty opponents room to argue that putting someone to death can be costly. Thirty-six states allow the death penalty, and along with New Mexico and Colorado, repeal efforts are underway in Nebraska, Montana, New Hampshire, Maryland, and Kansas. State Representative Paul Weissmann, a Democrat, has introduced a bill to do away with the death penalty in Colorado in order to fund a unit that would help police solve 1,300 cold cases around the state, as Panorama noted last month. Meanwhile, Nathan Dunlap sits on death row for the Chuck E. Cheese massacre in Aurora 15 years ago, a compelling story in a complex debate, as Patrick Doyle and Natasha Gardner reported recently for 5280.