Death penalty repeal bill introduced in House

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By Cowboy State Daily

A bill that would repeal Wyoming’s death penalty was introduced in the House on Tuesday and is headed for review by a legislative committee.

HB 145, sponsored by 18 legislators from both parties, would make the most severe penalty that could be handed down in murder cases life without parole.

Rep. Jared Olsen, R-Cheyenne, one of the bill’s sponsors, said the measure enjoys bipartisan support in part because of the cost involved with pursuing the death penalty.

“The majority of folks coming at it right now are worried about the cost,” he said. “Because we have budgetary issues, they’re worried about what that might look like in the future, knowing that it’s ineffective. It’s a waste of $1 million a year.”

The last person executed in Wyoming was Mark Hopkinson in 1992.

However, opponents argue the repeal of Wyoming’s death penalty would take away a bargaining chip for prosecutors.

Rep. Bill Pownall, R-Gillette, also said a repeal would amount to overlooking murder victims.

“I think they’re forgetting the victim in this case and that’s where I look at this bill as they’re not looking back at the circumstances of the crime,” he said.

The bill has been assigned to the House’s Labor, Health and Social Services Committee.

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