Friday, 16 February 2007

Committee OKs bill to end death penalty

Committee OKs bill to end death penalty

By The Associated Press

HELENA - The state shouldn't be in the business of killing people, members of a Senate panel said Thursday in recommending the death penalty be abolished.

The Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed Senate Bill 306, 8-4, sending it to the Senate floor for further debate, as Montana joins a number of states scrutinizing capital punishment.

Supporters of the measure by Sen. Dan Harrington, D-Butte, said the death penalty could never be administered fairly and argued that violence should not be used to stop violence. The bill would commute existing death sentences to life in prison and abolish capital punishment.

"I don't think we always know who's innocent and who's guilty," Sen. Carol Williams, D-Missoula, said. "As long as I feel there's the potential that somebody may be innocently convicted of something, I think the government shouldn't be in the business of executing Montanans."

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