Cost, Deception & the Death Penalty: The Colorado Experience


Worldwide NEWS RELEASE    May 8, 2009


contact: Dudley Sharp, 713-622-5491


Cost, Deception & the Death Penalty: The Colorado Experience


Death penalty opponents fashioned this argument: End the death penalty, they said, and we can use the $380,000/year(1), the alleged net cost excess of the death penalty, to fund cold case investigations, for over 1400 Colorado unsolved murders.


From the beginning, this was, only, another anti death penalty effort. Plea bargains to a life sentence, only possible because of the presence of the death penalty, likely, would save more money (1).


By the end of the Colorado Legislative session, even for the most naive, all doubt was removed.


Some Senators had re written bill 1274, taken out the death penalty repeal and introduced constant funding for cold case investigations. This revived bill came “up with as much money for cold-case investigations as the bill originally would have” by establishing “a $2.50 surcharge on all traffic tickets and criminal convictions in the state.” (2)

Anti death penalty legislators said no. They re instated the death penalty repeal, in conference committee, even though they already had the cold case funds.


The last day of the session, the reconstituted anti death penalty bill failed, just as death penalty opponents knew that it could, thus gutting the additional cold case funding, also part of bill 1274.


This was never about cold case funds. Had it been, death penalty opponents would have secured the funding, in conference committee, then voted for that funding, alone and jubilantly.


This was about repealing the death penalty, whose adherents knowingly sacrificed cold case funding, which, certainly, would have passed, absent the death penalty repeal re introduction.


How cynical did it get?


Death penalty opponent and Senate President Peter Groff stated “We’ve put some nice garnish (cold case funding) around it, but really what this is about is whether government should kill or not kill.” (3)


“nice garnish.”


Nationwide strategy


Every few years, death penalty opponents create a new crisis, because their previous one failed. Thus, the cost issue and, in Colorado, its coupling with cold case funding. 


This year, there were, at least, 10 states, wherein death penalty opponents were using cost as their main repeal issue.


New Mexico will, likely, be the only state to repeal this year and started out, strong, with the cost mantra. Cost soon died, as an issue, because it was, blatantly, false. 


The NM repeal succeeded only because more anti death penalty democrats were elected.


The “. . . Senate vote to repeal the death penalty in New Mexico was a direct result of November’s election of several new lawmakers.” The repeal bill’s sponsor, Rep. Gail Chase said she was able to get the bill through because the 2008 election added three more senators to the Democratic majority.  District Attorney Lem Martinez, who had spoken against the repeal bill, said “the Senate vote was the result of Obama’s coattails.” (“Senate backs death-penalty repeal”, Steve Terrell,  The (Santa Fe) New Mexican, 3/13/09). (4)


So goes death penalty opponents machinery of deception, until the next session.


copyright 2009 Dudley Sharp: Permission for distribution of this document, in whole or in part,  is approved with proper attribution.


Dudley Sharp
e-mail,  713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas
Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS , VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O’Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.
A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.


(1) A few months later, the cost savings of ending the death penalty rose to $1 million/year, the newest alleged net cost excess.  A complete cost review, which was not done, may have found little to no cost savings.


See “Cost Savings: The Death Penalty”


” . . . the actual amount of money that would have been saved if there were no death penalty was a subject of considerable dispute.” (“Death penalty may live on”, The Daily Sentinel, May 05, 2009)


(2) “Death penalty may live on”, The Daily Sentinel, May 05, 2009



(3) “Senators vote to keep executions”, The Durango Herald, May 07, 2009



(4) See    “Why did Gov. Richardson repeal the death penalty? His legacy”


                 “Rebuttal to Governor Richardson – Repeal of the Death Penalty in New Mexico”




on the New Jersey death penalty repeal, see my four responses to New Jersey Assembly Speaker Roberts’ article, after his article. Starting with:


“DEAD WRONG: New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission”

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