Sen. Rhonda Fields on death penalty vote delay: ‘Voters should decide’

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Posted at 8:26 PM, Mar 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-20 22:26:10-04

DENVER – The Colorado Senate on Wednesday put the death penalty debate on hold after several Democrats signaled they weren’t sure if they would be supporting its repeal.

Sources who spoke with our partners at The Denver Post said as many as four Democrats had yet to decide on whether to support the abolishment of Colorado’s capital punishment law.

This puts the repeal in danger as Democrats have just a two-vote majority in the Senate.

State Sen. Rhonda Fields, a Democrat who represents Arapahoe County, spoke to Denver7 on Wednesday following news of the delay.

She said she was relieved that it had been put on hold, adding she believes a repeal of the death penalty should be left to Colorado voters and not elected officials.

“I think that people should decide that issue. And, right now, polling suggests a fair number of people believe it should be something we keep on the books.”

Fields, whose son was killed by two of the men currently on death row, also said her voice hasn’t been heard.

“I haven’t really had the chance to share my voice on this matter because I was not in committee, I did not testify in committee, so I was going to lend my voice to it when it got to the floor,” Fields said.

She also said she felt that there was something missing during a hearing on whether or not to repeal the death penalty.

“What was missing from that hearing though, is people that would be impacted by those who are currently serving on death row,” Fields said. “I think we need to make sure that we have ample time for people to testify and to participate and make sure the process is fair.”

If passed, the bill would take effect in July but it would not impact the sentences of the three men currently on death row – that decision will be left up to Governor Jared Polis, who has said in the past he would sign such a measure into law.

His office has not yet commented on whether he plans to commute the sentences of the three men currently on Colorado’s death row.

The debate on the Senate floor on whether to repeal the death penalty in Colorado has been rescheduled for April 1.