Legislative Activity - Montana

  • Montana Assistant Attorney General Calls for Death Penalty Repeal Montana Assistant Attorney General John Connor has voiced support for a legislative measure that would abolish capital punishment in his state. Stating his belief that the death penalty does not deter crime and is expensive, Connor told the Montana House Judiciary Committee, "It seems to me to be the ultimate incongruity to say we respect life so much that we're going to dedicate all our money, all our resources, our legal expertise and our entire system to try and take your life. . . . Frankly, I just don't think I can do it anymore." Senator Dan Harrington, who sponsored this year's repeal measure, added that it is wrong to teach children "that to prevent violence we beget violence." He also noted that the death penalty is costly and unfair. The death penalty repeal measure passed the Montana Senate in February. It is pending in the House. Montana has two people on death row. (Associated Press, March 10, 2007). UPDATE: The repeal bill was defeated in the Montana House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 9-8.
  • Montana Senate Votes to Abolish Death Penalty The Montana Senate has voted to abolish the state's death penalty law. Supporters of the measure noted that the death penalty does not deter crime, is expensive, increases the suffering of victims' families who must endure a lengthy mandatory appeals process, and is not applied fairly or accurately. "It's not right. You can't do it fairly, you can't do it with equity, you can't do it with justice," said Democratic Senator Steve Gallus. Among the Republican Senators who supported abolition was Sen. Roy Brown, R-Billings, who said his anti-abortion views led him to change his mind and vote for abolishing the death penalty. "Even a guilty life is worth saving," he said. He emphasized that the possibility of executing an innocent person made the death penalty untenable. Sen. Jim Shockey, R-Victor, agreed, distinguishing killing in wars and self-defense from the death penalty: "It is not necessary for the government to kill people for revenge." The measure passed by a vote of 27-21 and now faces a final Senate vote before it goes to the Montana House for consideration. There are currently two prisoners on death row in Montana. The state has executed three people since the death penalty was reinstated in the 1970s. (Associated Press, February 24, 2007) UPDATE: The bill passed the Senate on 3rd reading on Saturday by a vote of 27-22 and will now be referred to the Montana House Judiciary Committee where it will be slated for a hearing in the upcoming weeks (March 2, 2007).