2018 Criminal Justice

Our “On the Issues” pages draw from speeches, interviews, campaign websites, our candidate questionnaire and prior media coverage, including our own. These pages will continue to be updated.

Steve Barlock

On the death penalty: “Governor Hickenlooper might be content for Nathan Dunlap to be able to live out his life just like that of Hickenlooper’s former illegally employed restaurant worker Raul Gomez-Garcia who was convicted of killing police Detective Donald Young. However, our state legal system fairly condemned Nathan Dunlap to death. Unlike our current Governor, I believe in the enforcement of our laws and would allow the sentences of all criminals to be carried out as intended by Colorado’s judicial system including the execution of Nathan Dunlap.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

Cynthia Coffman

“The death penalty should remain a viable sentencing option in criminal cases with a singular exception: if the citizens of Colorado decide to repeal it through the initiative process. This appears unlikely, since any number of opinion polls indicate Coloradans want the death penalty as an option when their neighbors or families are killed in horrific, depraved crimes. …The continued viability of the death penalty in Colorado should rest in the voters’ hands. They make up our jury pools and may one day sit on a capital case. Neither the executive nor legislative branch can be expected to read the minds of voters, nor should they substitute their judgment for the public’s. And, if opponents are correct that the death penalty is passé in modern society, they should not fear an up or down vote of the people.” The Denver Post, 2015

Lew Gaiter

“Another challenge, he says, is as the state works to reduce its prison population it puts pressure on counties. If a violent offender’s term is shortened and he or she gets out on early release or parole and commits another crime, he says, that suspect goes back to the local jail until a conviction. ‘There’s no funds to deal with that,’ he says. ‘You get unfunded mandates down to your local communities.'” The Colorado Independent

In The Colorado Independent’s candidate questionnaire, Gaiter said he would not support abolishing the death penalty in Colorado.

Noel Ginsburg

On the death penalty: “There are 156 examples of people wrongly convicted and put on death row. For every 10 people who have been executed since the death penalty was reinstated, 1 has been exonerated. The state should not be in a position to take someone’s life, especially with so many examples of wrongful conviction. Because of the extensive appeals process associated with death row inmates, it is significantly more expensive to put somebody on death row than it is to put them in jail for the remainder of their lives. I morally do not believe in the death penalty as a form of justice.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

Mike Johnston

“…As a state senator, I worked to make punishments for some of the most egregious crimes tougher. At the same time, from our own community office in Park Hill, I have seen too many neighbors get caught up in the criminal justice system when their real need was treatment, mental health or job skills. I’ve seen us send poor parents to jail just because they can’t afford to pay bail, even though they don’t pose a threat to their neighbors. And I’ve seen how the burden of incarceration falls disproportionately on communities of color, so that a black man in Colorado is over seven times more likely than a white man to go to prison. …These unacceptable failures leave us less safe, waste our money, and increase suffering. As your Governor, I will build a system that can deliver lasting justice for all.” Mike Johnston for Colorado

On the death penalty: “I called for the abolition of the death penalty five years ago. It does not serve as a deterrent, and is unevenly applied in criminal cases. It is time for Colorado to move beyond it.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

Cary Kennedy

Over the past 35 years, Colorado’s state prison budget has increased by almost 13 times. In 2015 we incarcerated nearly eight times as many people as we did in 1980. This era of mass incarceration in our state has had a devastating impact on individuals, families, communities, and the state’s budget. Reforming our state’s criminal justice system will require a nuanced and thorough set of reforms. As Governor, I will advance an agenda that prioritizes prevention and ensures that jails are not a replacement for important mental health services. We must confront the severe racial biases present in our criminal justice system and we need to demand solutions to bring down the rate of recidivism in our prisons and jails.” Cary Kennedy for Governor

On the death penalty: “I do not support the death penalty, and do not believe the state should take a life. I  am concerned that death penalty sentences are disproportionately applied to Coloradans based on race. Extensive research has found racial bias in sentencing and in the application of the death penalty. It is unfair and immoral to continue the practice when we know this bias exists.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

Greg Lopez

On the death penalty: “The death penalty acts as a deterrent for most individuals. There are cases where the death penalty is an appropriate punishment such as the killing of an officer or any first responder.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

Donna Lynne

On the death penalty: “I am opposed to the death penalty.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

Victor Mitchell

In The Colorado Independent’s candidate questionnaire, Mitchell said he would not support abolishing the death penalty in Colorado.

Jared Polis

On the death penalty: “The death penalty is outdated, ineffective, and grossly exacerbates the existing disparities in our criminal justice system. It also wastes money and fails to act as a deterrent. It’s time to abolish it, and I would sign a bill to do so.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

Doug Robinson

On the death penalty: “We use the death penalty sparingly in Colorado, and only for the most heinous crimes. That’s how the death penalty should be used.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

Walker Stapleton

No publicly stated position at this time

Erik Underwood

On the death penalty: “The death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

Photo credit: Joe Gratz, Creative Commons, Flickr