DENVER (KDVR) — As of 2023, there are 27 states that still have the death penalty and 23 that have abolished it.
On Monday, a surge of people went to Google to ask whether the Centennial State had the death penalty.
Does Colorado still have the death penalty?
No, it does not. A bill was signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis in March 2020 that abolished it. This means that the maximum sentence a person can receive in Colorado is life without the possibility of parole.
Even though the bill did not apply to the three people who had already been sentenced to death and were awaiting execution, Polis commuted their sentences to life in prison without parole after signing the bill.
The three people who had their sentences commuted were Nathan Dunlap, Mario Owens and Robert Ray.
What crimes have been punishable by death?
Before the death penalty was abolished, a jury could only sentence someone to death for first-degree murder, and that was only if certain other factors were met.
The factors included killing a child under 12, killing someone who had been kidnapped or taken hostage, killing a law enforcement officer and killing a pregnant woman, among other things.
Who was the last person executed in Colorado?
The last execution carried out in Colorado was that of Gary Lee Davis in October 1997. Davis had been sentenced to death in 1987 for the murder of 34-year-old Virginia May.
It was the first and only execution carried out in the state since capital punishment was reinstated after a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively abolished it nationwide.
The last person executed in the state before the Supreme Court decision was Luis Monge in 1967.