By Star Jameson, Hamilton
February 14 was an exciting day! House Bill 370, which proposes to abolish the death penalty and replace it with life without parole, was heard on Valentine’s Day in the House Judiciary Committee. After years of trying to fix the death penalty, Montanans are ready to just get rid of it. People from both sides of the aisle are supporting this bill, especially since the Great Falls Tribune came out in support of it.
The death penalty is costing Montanans literally millions of dollars every time it’s used. Much less costly is a life sentence without possibility of parole. It sounds more expensive, but it isn’t, because a death sentence requires two complete trials, and numerous appeals, using specially trained lawyers from out of state. The average death sentence process takes fourteen years.
A life sentence without parole allows the victim’s family members and the perpetrator’s family to move on with their lives, without worry of more media, or more digging up of terrifying memories. And it allows the possibility of redemption for the perpetrator, perhaps one reason why all the major Christian church organizations stand behind this change.
Additionally, the personnel at our State Prison experience major depressions and PTSD after an execution or injection of a prisoner has taken place. This is reported by a psychologist who works there. This is cruel and unnecessary.
From the House, Bill 370 will continue its journey in our legislative process. Please write a letter to your legislator. Handwritten letters are the most persuasive way to communicate with Legislators, who affirm that handwritten letters can make all the difference. Let them know why you feel the death penalty should be abolished.
For more information, please check the Montana Abolition Coalition website, or call me at 363-4026.