Polis signs death penalty repeal bill, commutes death row sentences to life in prison

Gov. Jared Polis

Gov. Jared Polis

DENVER (KDVR) – On Monday, Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill repealing the death penalty in Colorado.

The governor also commuted the sentences of the three people currently on death row — Robert Ray, Sir Mario Owens and Nathan Dunlap — to life in prison without parole.

“Commutations are typically granted to reflect evidence of extraordinary change in the offender. That is not why I am commuting these sentences to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Rather, the commutations of these despicable and guilty individuals are consistent with the abolition of the death penalty in the State of Colorado, and consistent with the recognition that the death penalty cannot be, and never has been, administered equitably in the State of Colorado,” Polis said in a statement.

The governor acknowledged his decision is controversial.

“While I understand that some victims agree with my decision and others disagree, I hope this decision provides clarity and certainty for them moving forward. The decision to commute these sentences was made to reflect what is now Colorado law, and done after a thorough outreach process to the victims and their families,” he said.

Polis has granted six commutations and five pardons since he took office in January 2019.

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