Colorado justice leaders urge Biden administration to end death penalty

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DENVER (KDVR) — Officials in the Colorado justice system are urging President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to immediately end the death penalty in the U.S.

Denver District Attorney Beth McCann was part of more than 50 current elected local prosecutors who sent a letter to Biden and Harris, calling on the new administration to take steps.

These steps include commuting the sentences of all those on federal death row and withdrawing current death penalty warrants; dismantling the death chamber at Terre Haute; encouraging Department of Justice leadership to instruct all federal prosecutors to not seek the death penalty in future cases; supporting and incentivizing state efforts to end capital punishment; and supporting legislation to end the federal death penalty.

Thirteen inmates were put to death during the Trump administration. McCann said in a statement the death penalty is unnecessary and that continuing with executions put additional lives in danger during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I do not believe the government should be in the business of executing people,” said McCann. “The death penalty is unnecessary to protect public safety, costly, arbitrary and tinged with racial bias. Colorado did away with the death penalty last year and it is now time for the federal government to do the same which is why I am urging President Biden and Vice President Harris to once and for all repeal capital punishment.

“[A]t a time when racial injustice, trust in law enforcement, and our nation’s reputation in the eyes of the world are all in dire need of repair, anything short of these steps would fail to move our nation forward or attend to these pressing crises. We should not leave the lives of all people still on federal death row — and many more who will become entangled with the federal system — in the hands of future administrations.”
Read the letter and see the full list of signatories here.

Additional Colorado justice leaders who have signed on to support movement to repeal the death penalty include:

  • Michael Dougherty, district attorney, Twentieth Judicial District (Boulder County), Colorado
  • Frank Dubofsky, former judge, Colorado Court of Appeals
  • Jean Dubofsky, former justice, Colorado Supreme Court
  • Stanley Garnett, former district attorney, Twentieth Judicial District (Boulder County), Colorado
  • Beth McCann, district attorney, Second Judicial District (Denver County), Colorado
  • Murray Richtel, former judge, Twentieth Judicial District Court (Boulder County), Colorado
  • Phil Weiser, attorney general, Colorado

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