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Governor signs bill abolishing Colorado’s death penalty, commutes sentences of state’s 3 death row inmates

Jesse Paul and John Ingold, The Colorado Sun
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Friday signed into law a broad police accountability bill introduced amid protests over the police killing of George Floyd.

Gov. Jared Polis on Monday signed into law a bill abolishing Colorado’s death penalty, simultaneously commuting the sentences of the three men on the state’s death row.

Polis converted the death sentences of Nathan Dunlap, Robert Ray and Sir Mario Owens to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The governor’s decision marks one of the most significant and emotional choices he’s made since taking office in January 2019.

“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,” Polis said in a written statement. “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 acknowledged there is disagreement among the families of victims, but added “I hope this decision provides clarity and certainty for them moving forward. 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.”

Read more via The Colorado Sun.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported news organization dedicated to covering the people, places and policies that matter in Colorado. Read more, sign up for free newsletters and subscribe at coloradosun.com.



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