HELENA — The state Senate has endorsed a bill to repeal the death penalty.
Senate Bill 185 sponsored by Democratic Sen. David Wanzenried of Missoula drew extensive debate Monday before the 26-24 floor vote. The bill now faces one more largely procedural vote in the Senate before going to the House.
Supporters of the repeal argue the possibility of putting an innocent person to death makes the death penalty unjust. Those wanting to keep the death penalty argue it makes sense for those who commit heinous crimes.
State Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder, voted to abolish the death penalty. State Sen. Rowlie Hutton, R-Havre, voted to keep it.
If the bill becomes law it will change the sentences of two inmates currently on Montana's death row to life in prison without parole.
A similar measure passed the Senate last session but was tabled in a House committee.