Rep. Rhonda Fields on push to repeal death penalty: "An insult to crime victims"
Even if a bill to repeal were not retroactive -- which means it would not affect the fate of the suspects in her son's case -- Fields says she is still worried that a removal of the death penalty would open the door to efforts that could impact those currently on death row.
"Though the bill won't address [past crimes]...it doesn't say that it can't ever happen," she notes.
Sam Levin Maisha Fields, daughter of Rhonda Fields, after speaking with survivors of the Aurora theater shooting.
"I have made my position clear. It's not a secret," Fields adds. "Prior to being elected, I have gone down to the State Capitol with many other crime victims, sharing testimony on why we would like to see the death penalty stay on the books."
It can be tough at times to disagree with her colleagues on this, she says, but adds, "I'm a woman of principles and values. I'm gonna stand on that despite my party affiliation."
And she is worried that the measure may be more likely to pass this time. "It sounds like...several lawmakers feel like the time is now to move...because they think they have the margins to pass it," she notes.
She continues, "It just seems like every other day, we are hearing about someone taking a gun and harming other people, just snatching their lives suddenly and we are left to pick up the pieces. It doesn't seem like the right public safety measure to be taking now."
Those who support a repeal of the death penalty, like Levy, point out that it likely wouldn't apply to the perpetrators of recent horrific tragedies in Colorado; lawyers for James Holmes, the Aurora shooter, will push for an insanity defense and Austin Reed Sigg, who allegedly kidnapped and killed ten-year-old Jessica Ridgeway, is seventeen and too young to face the death penalty.
"She's absolutely right," Fields says of Levy's argument. "I think that the death penalty shouldn't be applied broadly. I think we should have strict standards...of laws that would qualify a case for the death penalty. If you are mentally ill, you are not eligible."
She adds, "That's what makes the death penalty an option that's not used that often."
The other argument in favor of a repeal is that the death penalty is expensive -- and that the money funneled into related litigation could be put to better use. "My view on that, is what cost do you put on justice?" Fields says. "I sat through the trials for two of them and they murdered my son. What price do you put on that? You can't put a price on that."
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