Colorado State of State 2020

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis waits outside the chambers of the House of Representatives to be introduced and deliver his State of State speech in the State Capitol Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Denver.

(The Center Square) – Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Monday signed a controversial bill to end the death penalty, as the state deals with the mounting coronavirus outbreak.

Polis additionally commuted the sentences of three men currently on death row in the state.

“Commutations are typically granted to reflect evidence of extraordinary change in the offender. That is not why I am commuting these sentences to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Rather, the commutations of these despicable and guilty individuals are consistent with the abolition of the death penalty in the State of Colorado, and consistent with the recognition that the death penalty cannot be, and never has been, administered equitably in the State of Colorado,” Polis said in a statement Monday. 

“While I understand that some victims agree with my decision and others disagree, I hope this decision provides clarity and certainty for them moving forward,” he added. “The decision to commute these sentences was made to reflect what is now Colorado law, and done after a thorough outreach process to the victims and their families.”

An attempt to pass a death penalty repeal bill failed last session after being met with opposition from Sen. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora. The bill introduced this session, however, garnered key support from three Republicans in the Senate.

Fields’ son and his fiancé were murdered by two of the three men on death row, whose sentences were commuted to life in prison without parole. 

The bill was one of several the governor signed Monday, as his administration deals with a growing number of coronavirus cases in the state.


Regional Editor

Derek Draplin is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as an opinion producer at Forbes, and as a reporter at Michigan Capitol Confidential and The Detroit News. He’s also an editor at The Daily Caller.