With 40 co-sponsors, Rep. Jared Olsen (R-Cheyenne) filed House Bill 166, legislation that would repeal the death penalty in Wyoming.
The bill will need the support of 2/3 of House lawmakers in order to be introduced during the legislature’s budget session, but supporters are confident that will happen. The death penalty’s history of deep injustices, skyrocketing costs and entrenched discrimination defies party lines in the Equality State.
“Ending the death penalty is not a partisan issue in Wyoming,” said Sabrina King, director of campaigns for the ALCU of Wyoming. “We know innocent people are sent to death row, we know the toll on victims’ families from the death penalty is immense, and we know having it in law does not serve as a deterrent to violent crime – and people on both sides of the political aisle agree. It’s time to end the death penalty in Wyoming.”
In the 2019 Wyoming legislative session, a bill to repeal the death penalty drew far more support from state lawmakers than ever before. The bill had 13 co-sponsors in the House and five in the Senate, and had the support of leadership in both chambers. Ultimately, the bill passed in the House but failed with an 18-12 vote in the Senate.
In addition to the ACLU of Wyoming, organizations like the Catholic Diocese of Cheyenne, the League of Women Voters of Wyoming, Holy Apostles Orthodox Christian Church of Cheyenne and Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty also support the repeal of the death penalty.
Also worth noting: The bill’s number – HB 166 – is significant. Since 1973, 166 former death-row prisoners have been exonerated of all charges and set free.
About the ACLU of Wyoming
The American Civil Liberties Union of Wyoming is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of Wyoming is part of a three-state chapter that also includes North Dakota and South Dakota. The team in Wyoming is supported by staff in those states.
The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people. In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women, and the LGBT communities. The ACLU of Wyoming carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for the people of Wyoming.