CHEYENNE – A diverse partnership of legislators, faith-based organizations, civil liberties groups and good government advocates are supporting a proposal in the 2019 Wyoming Legislature to repeal the death penalty. House Bill 145 was filed Monday, Jan. 14, with 13 co-sponsors in the House and five in the Senate – and has the support of leadership in both chambers.
Supporters include the Catholic Diocese of Cheyenne, the League of Women Voters of Wyoming and the ACLU of Wyoming. They contend capital punishment is a costly and unfair practice that does not enhance public safety or promote justice in Wyoming.
“Our Catholic faith informs us that every human life has an immeasurable value,” said Mike Leman with the Catholic Diocese of Cheyenne. “Laws that enable a body to set the value of another’s life at zero contradict this revelation. The last three popes have explicitly called for repealing capital punishment laws.”
“LWV Wyoming is glad to join a diverse bipartisan effort to repeal the death penalty in Wyoming,” said Susan Simpson, state League of Women Voters president. “Capital punishment is an irrevocable act, made by a criminal justice system that can and has punished the innocent. In addition, appeals drag on for years so that capital punishment is not an inexpensive response to crime. Meanwhile, there is no conclusive evidence that it deters crime. Our country has incarceration options that punish criminals, keep other safe and can correct mistakes.”
“It is simply time,” noted Sabrina King, policy director for the ACLU 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. We have the chance to act on that knowledge here in Wyoming and end this abhorrent practice.”
The death penalty costs the state hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, as it does for every state in which the death penalty is still law; a recent study in Idaho found even keeping the death penalty as a sentencing option cost the state money. Additionally, the death penalty is ineffective in deterring crime; states without the death penalty have lower homicide rates than those that do.
Currently, Wyoming has no one on death row and no pending death penalty cases.