A bill to abolish the death penalty in Colorado passed out of committee Wednesday. We reported on the bill here. Death penalty case now cost Colorado $3.8 million annually, according to a January 2003 report by former Attorney General Ken Salazar. Under the proposed law, sponsored by Rep. Paul Weissmann, D-Louisville, the savings would be used to solve cold cases.

Weissman says 1,200 killings have gone unsolved in Colorado since 1970. At the same time, he says millions have been spent prosecuting and defending death penalty cases. “We hardly ever use the death penalty in the state; we put one murder, if you believe in the death penalty, above another one,” said Weisman. “You make district attorneys really pick and choose which cases they want to prosecute at the death penalty.”

Life without the possibility of parole is cheaper than the death penalty and protects the public. I hope this bill becomes law. Thanks to Think Outside the Cage, a new Colorado blog dedicated to criminal justice reform, for alerting me to the development.