Montana Senate Votes to Repeal the Death Penalty

On February 14, the Montana state Senate passed a bill that would repeal the death penalty and replace it with a sentence of life without parole. In a 26-24 vote, all of the Senate’s Democrats and four Republicans supported ending capital punishment, marking the second straight legislative session for such a vote. Senator David Wanzenried, who introduced the bill, said that the death penalty is not a fair punishment, does not bring closure for victims, or serve as a deterrent to murder. He said the “current system can’t be made fair and it can’t be made infallible.” Other concerns cited by supporters of the repeal bill were the high risks of wrongful convictions, the punishment’s disproportional use against racial minorities and the poor, and the financial costs of implementing the punishment. Republican Senator Ryan Zinke said, “Whether you are or not with the moral issue, there is a practical issue of spending money.” The bill faces one more procedural Senate vote and will then be passed on to the House.

(S. Dockery, “Montana Senate endorses repeal of death penalty,” The Missoulian, February 14, 2011). See Costs, Victims and Recent Legislative Activity.