How Colorado Saved the Death Penalty

May 5 2009, 9:19 AM

morse-johnEfforts to end the death penalty in Colorado faltered yesterday as state senators engaged in a "sometimes anguished and angry" debate over deterrence and money, writes The New York Times. The bill that would have banned the death penalty--because it is costly to prosecute and used infrequently--and created a fund to investigate unsolved murder cases was altered yesterday. A new amendment provides a different stream of money to solve the so-called "cold cases" but makes no reference to the death penalty. Democratic Senator John Morse of Colorado Springs (pictured) took the lead on the "eleventh-hour alteration," according to The Denver Post, redrafting the bill with Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, a Grand Junction Republican, who says the compromise was prompted by Democratic Governor Bill Ritter's silence on the issue. Ritter's personal and professional history with the death penalty was detailed last December by 5280 in "The Politics of Killing." "By shelving the death penalty issue, Senate Democrats set aside a hot potato that might have burned them politically," according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.

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