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Colorado Legislature votes to abolish death sentence, awaiting governor’s signature
Colorado Legislature votes to abolish death sentence, awaiting governor’s signature

A bill to abolish the death penalty in Colorado passed the General Assembly on Wednesday in a House vote of 38-27, following the Senate’s 19-13 vote on January 31.

The bill, “Concerning the repeal of the death penalty by the general assembly in all circumstances charged on or after July 1, 2020,” would remove the death penalty as an option for first degree felonies charged after July 1, 2020.

The bill does not, however, affect previous convictions for those charged before the July 1 cutoff. “Nothing in this section commutes or alters the sentence of a defendant convicted of an offense charged prior to July 1, 2020. This section does not apply to a person currently serving a death sentence. Any death sentence in effect on July 1, 2020 is valid.”

There are currently three people on death row in Colorado; however, one of them, Nathan Dunlap, had his execution indefinitely stayed in 2013 by then-Governor John Hickenlooper.

Last year, Colorado Governor Jared Polis told Colorado Public Radio that if an abolition bill passed the General Assembly, he would “take that as a strong indication that those who are currently on death row should have their sentences commuted to life in prison.” However, the governor has not commented since the bill’s passage on whether he will commute the sentences of these three individuals.

Governor Polis is expected to sign the bill into law.