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The 'Tough' Choice: Wyoming Senate Votes Down Bill to Abolish Capital Punishment

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Despite substantial efforts to abolish capital punishment, state lawmakers voted down the latest attempt to repeal Wyoming’s death penalty system.

According to Wyoming Tribune Eagle News, the Wyoming Senate voted against SF0150 in a 19-11 vote on Thursday. If the measure had passed, the state would have joined 23 others that have already taken steps to repeal their death penalty systems.

While the state came close to repealing the death penalty through a similar effort in 2019, that bill fell short by only a handful of votes.

The recent legislative effort was sponsored by Republican state Sen. Brian Boner, who presented a fiscal case against the death penalty.

“In the past 15 years, the death penalty has been on the table in 14 cases,” Boner said, according to Wyoming News. “Every single time, the result has been a conviction of life without parole. So, put another way, we spent millions of taxpayer dollars to arrive at the exact same results as if we just repealed the death penalty.”

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“So, that’s why, especially as we faced some really tough fiscal choices as we’ve been discussing for the past several weeks, we finally remove this archaic, nonfunctional, so-called tool on the shelf,” he added.

One of the groups that supported the effort was a state branch of the national organization Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty.

The organization comprises a network of conservatives who “question the alignment of capital punishment with conservative principles and values,” according to its website.

Kylie Taylor, the Wyoming state coordinator for CCATDP, tweeted on Thursday that, despite the bill’s failure, the policy group plans to continue its death penalty repeal efforts.

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“SF150 failed on the Senate floor, but we aren’t finished and we’ll be back,” she wrote.

“I am so proud of the work we’ve done in the last two years to get where we are today. Our coalition and sponsors are amazing and I’m looking forward to continuing our work.”

In an emailed statement to The Western Journal, Taylor expressed disappointment in the vote, while citing the flaws she sees with the death penalty system as reasons for its potential repeal.

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“Last week, both chambers passed budget legislation that will cut the public defender’s office death penalty representation,” she told The Western Journal. “Today’s vote to keep the death penalty, paired with that budget, risks a constitutional crisis.”

“We have the death penalty — a failed government program that risks innocent lives — but no means to provide the right to an adequate defense, as defined by our Constitution,” Taylor added.

“Many conservative lawmakers understand that, and we know it is only a matter of time before they revisit this broken policy and end Wyoming’s death penalty once and for all.”

In contrast, one of the bill’s opponents, Republican state Sen. Tara Nethercott, argued that Wyoming uses the death penalty “judiciously.” The state senator also said that she is “proud of our history with the death penalty,” Wyoming News reported.

The national manager of CCATDP, Hannah Cox, however, disagrees with this view of the death penalty.

“If you do even the most basic research into the death penalty system, you will find that who gets the death penalty is determined by the location where the crime is committed,” Cox told The Western Journal earlier this month.

“And it’s worth pointing out yet again that only 60 percent of homicides even get solved in this country or anywhere else,” she said.

“So the death penalty is, again, something where we waste a ton of money being performative instead of actually going and solving more crimes, which is something that actually would decrease crime.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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