death penalty

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A much more concerted effort is underway to abolish the death penalty in Wyoming. The League of Women Voters, religious groups, the Wyoming ACLU and Wyoming's chapter of the NAACP have organized a campaign after an effort to abolish capital punishment failed in the State Senate this year after passing the House. Sabrina King of Wyoming's ACLU is leading the nine month campaign to gain support for the effort and she discusses the effort with Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

An effort to abolish the death penalty in Wyoming has failed. The Senate voted 18 to 12 to defeat a bill that would have changed Wyoming's maximum punishment to life without parole.

A bill that would abolish the Death Penalty easily passed the Wyoming House Friday. Supporters say it's time to end government-sanctioned killing and they argue that it's a waste of taxpayer money.

Wyoming State Legislature

A group of Wyoming legislators is hoping this is the year that they repeal the death penalty. Douglas Senator Brian Boner and Cheyenne Representative Jared Olsen are sponsoring the bill. They note that no one has been executed in Wyoming since 1992, yet the state still has to pay nearly a million dollars a year to defend cases. 

Wyoming Department of Corrections

Casper’s District Attorney will be allowed again to seek the death penalty in the case of a Wyoming inmate convicted of killing a Montana woman. That’s after District Judge Alan Johnson denied a request from Dale Wayne Eaton’s defense team to let him serve life in prison without parole. 

Eaton was convicted of killing Lisa Marie Kimmell in 2004, but his death sentence was overturned last year after Judge Johnson ruled he did not receive a proper defense. The judge said Eaton’s history as a victim of abuse should have been discussed.

A federal judge has overturned the death penalty for Dale Wayne Eaton, Wyoming's lone death row inmate.

U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson of Cheyenne on Thursday stated Wyoming has a choice of either granting a new sentencing proceeding for Eaton within 120 days in Natrona County or keeping him locked up for life without parole.

The 69-year-old Eaton was sentenced to death in 2004 in state court for the 1988 rape and murder of 18-year-old Lisa Marie Kimmell of Billings, Montana.

Recently a legislative committee gave its support to a bill that would have Wyoming use firing squads for the death penalty as opposed to lethal injection. For a variety of reasons, States are finding it difficult acquire the drugs that have traditionally been used to put people to death. Some states have tried to replace the drugs and it has led to some botched executions. One issue that could come before the legislature this year is whether the state should get rid of the death penalty all together.

Is it time for Wyoming to drop the death penalty?  Why or why not?

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Wyoming’s Joint Judiciary Legislative Committee has voted to support a bill that would allow for execution by firing squad, but voted down an attempt to abolish the death penalty altogether. 

States nationwide are being forced to find alternatives to executions now that drugs for lethal injections are hard to come by. Abolishing the death penalty altogether generated considerable debate. Baggs Senator Larry Hicks says the death penalty provides justice for victims. 

But Laramie Representative Cathy Connolly says the issue is greater than that.

The Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee will consider a bill next week in Laramie that could end up abolishing the state’s death penalty law. 

Currently states are having difficulty acquiring the chemicals to perform lethal injections, so the Judiciary Committee has been looking at other alternatives…including firing squads. But House Committee Chairman Keith Gingery says another alternative is to abolish the death penalty.

Ken Piorkowski via Flickr Creative Commons

Wyoming lawmakers are considering changing state law to allow firing squads in the execution of condemned convicts.

A similar bill failed introduction in the state Senate, but after Wyoming Department of Corrections Director Bob Lampert testified before the legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee, the committee asked staff to draft a bill allowing firing squads—which they’ll consider at their next meeting in July.