Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Tim Leeds 

Reps. say death penalty repeal unlikely

 


Two local legislators said Wednesday they plan to vote against a bill that would repeal capital punishment in Montana.

"I definitely will vote against getting rid of the death penalty in Montana," Rep. Wendy Warburton, R-Havre, said from Helena during a weekly video conference in Havre.

The bill, which narrowly passed the Senate on a 26-24 vote, replaces the death penalty with life in prison without parole.

Warburton said the bill strikes out every instance of the death in the law.

"So you would never be able to execute anybody, even Ted Bundy, in this state," she said. "If you have somebody that's in prison already in a life sentence they can just continue to kill, and have. There were multiple cases cited."

Rep. Kris Hansen, R-Havre, said the four hours of testimony on the bill, which narrowly passed the Senate on a 26-24 vote, made strong points on both sides. She said she was leaning toward voting against the bill before hearing the testimony.

Hansen said she now believes that most of the problems she sees with the death penalty, such as its expense and long, drawn out series of appeals, are issues the state of Montana should address before a decision is made to eliminate capital punishment.

Rep. Kris Hansen, R-Havre, said the four hours of testimony on the bill, which narrowly passed the Senate on a 26-24 vote, made strong points on both sides. She said she was leaning toward voting against the bill before hearing the testimony.

"I wanted Montana to take a look at it," Hansen said, adding that she was more convinced to vote against the bill after hearing both sides speak compellingly during the hearing.

Part of what she heard, Hansen said, is that "much of what causes the time delays, and much of what causes the great, exorbitant costs is not the trial phase itself … but is the post-trial appellate process."

Hansen and Warburton cited testimony about people confessing about murders in deals to avoid the death penalty. That incentive would be gone if the death penalty is eliminated, they said.

"I don't believe it should be absolutely taken out of the law," Warburton said.

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Legislative contacts:

Rep. Tony Belcourt, legislative information desk (406) 444-4800;

[email protected]

Rep. Kris Hansen, (406) 461-2456; [email protected]

Sen. Rowlie Hutton, 945-0256;

[email protected]

Rep. Wendy Warburton, 262-3185; [email protected]

Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy, 945-1805; [email protected]

anted Montana to take a look at it," Hansen said, adding that she was more convinced to vote against the bill after hearing both sides speak compellingly during the hearing.

Part of what she heard, Hansen said, is that "much of what causes the time delays, and much of what causes the great, exorbitant costs is not the trial phase itself … but is the post-trial appellate process."

Hansen and Warburton cited testimony about people confessing about murders in deals to avoid the death penalty. That incentive would be gone if the death penalty is eliminated, they said.

"I don't believe it should be absolutely taken out of the law," Warburton said.

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Legislative contacts:

Rep. Tony Belcourt, legislative information desk (406) 444-4800;

[email protected]

Rep. Kris Hansen, (406) 461-2456; [email protected]

Sen. Rowlie Hutton, 945-0256;

[email protected]

Rep. Wendy Warburton, 262-3185; [email protected]

Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy, 945-1805; [email protected]

 

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