Colorado’s ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ History with the Death Penalty
It's a subject that not many want to bring up in conversation, but perhaps weighs on their minds. Colorado's stance on the death penalty.
Does Colorado have the death penalty? No.
The death penalty in Colorado was repealed in 2020. The bill cleared both the Senate and the House that year after many, many hours of heated debate on the subject. I think that could go for any conversation about the death penalty in Colorado: Many are adamantly for it, many have the same feeling, only against it.
Here are a few comments from Reddit about the repeal:
- Good. Capital punishment is an extreme exertion of state power and is of little use in a free society while it is of great use to a tyrannical government.
- Finally. Let's move into the 21st century and leave the medieval sh*t in the past
- Good news! I've always been against the death penalty.
Colorado had capital punishment in place from 1974 until the repeal in 2020.
Why Did Colorado Have the Death Penalty from 1974-2020?
In 1972 the Supreme Court halted executions all across the nation, deeming capital punishment "cruel and unusual" punishment. In 1974 Colorado voters voted to put it back in place for the state.
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For four years, 18970-1901, Colorado abolished the death penalty. It was brought back after an increase in lynchings and vigilante justice happening.
How Did Colorado Put People to Death When it Was Legal?
- Gas inhalation (after 1934.)
- Lethal Injection (after 1988.)
I don't know why I feel "hanging" and "gas inhalation" seem really harsh.
According to the Colorado Sun, Colorado jurors would decide whether a defendant would receive the death penalty or not. That was until one defense lawyer worked the system so well (his client did not receive the death penalty) that his defense was always used in such cases. In 1995, Colorado passed a law making it so that 3-judge panels would decide on it. In 2002, Colorado's 3-judge panel law was struck down by the Supreme Court, and the decision went back to the juries.
Even with the death penalty being legal in Colorado, not many juries opted for it. One case that stands out is James Holmes. Holmes was convicted of killing 12 people at an Aurora movie theater; Holmes did not receive the death penalty.