State by state, the United States is moving away from the death penalty because it’s racist, arbitrary, inhumane, and prone to error.
With a growing number of state legislators supporting a repeal of the death penalty, Wyoming is headed in that direction, too. Now, Wyomingites who want to see the death penalty abolished are thanking those legislators for their support.
More than 125 Wyoming residents and other repeal supporters from around the country – including Sister Helen Prejean, a leading advocate for the abolition of the death penalty – signed an open letter urging state legislators to support the repeal in the 2021 legislative session.
The letter reads, in part: “As more information becomes available about the arbitrary and discriminatory manner in which these laws are applied — and as societal standards regarding the death penalty continue to evolve — it becomes increasingly difficult for capital punishment laws to avoid violating the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. … The death penalty is an intolerable denial of civil liberties and is inconsistent with the fundamental values of our democratic system. The time to take up a bill ending the death penalty in Wyoming is now. Let’s make a repeal happen in 2021.”
“Support for repealing the death penalty among Wyoming residents is growing every day, and we’re confident that support will continue to catch more traction with lawmakers as well,” said Sabrina King, ACLU of Wyoming campaign consultant. “As more information becomes available about the arbitrary and discriminatory manner in which these laws are applied — and as societal standards regarding the death penalty continue to evolve — it becomes increasingly difficult for capital punishment laws to avoid violating the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.”
Ending the death penalty is not a partisan issue. The death penalty’s history of deep injustices, skyrocketing costs and entrenched discrimination defies party lines.
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 2020, the Wyoming House of Representatives narrowly missed meeting the 2/3 super majority of votes required to consider legislation that would repeal the death penalty during the legislature’s budget session.
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.
A copy of the letter sent to legislators is below.
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 LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit 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.