The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado on Monday released a report highlighting 22 individuals who support the repeal of the state’s death penalty — all of whom had a loved one murdered.
“We’ve only had one execution in the last 40 years. And in that set time period we’ve had over 4,000 homicides in Colorado. I find it insulting when people suggest we need the death penalty as justice for victims,” said Lieutenant Hollis, whose niece was murdered in Aurora. “Are you suggesting the vast majority of us don’t deserve justice because we were never offered the death penalty? Don’t add insult to our tremendous injury by telling us our loss wasn’t the worst of the worst.”
Of the 2,092 homicides between 2000 and 2013, the ACLU found that only in 17 cases did prosecutors seek capital punishment. Such cases also take 1,376 longer on average between the filing of criminal charges and the imposition of the punishment.
Calling the death penalty a “bloated government program” that takes time and resources away from the legal system while leaving open the potential for irreversible error, the report states that families are also re-traumatized by the lengthy appeals process in capital cases.
Babette Romero-Miller’s nephew, 11-year-old Antonio Ray Davalos, was murdered in 2000. “When the killer was eventually sentenced to life, our family had legal resolution,” she said. “Only after all the legal maneuvers were over, did we have the space to breathe and focus on our grief. Life without possibility of parole provides us relatively speedy trials that come to an end and allow families to move forward.”
The ACLU document comes less than one week after The Denver Post reported that the Senate has enough support to pass a repeal of capital punishment. Two Republicans have committed to vote with the large majority of Democrats on the issue.
There are three inmates currently on Colorado’s death row, and only one person has undergone execution since 1976.
One of the signatories to the report's call for repeal is former Senate Minority Leader Lucía Guzmán, D-Denver. Her father, Tom Guzmán, was murdered in a robbery of the gas station where he worked.