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SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 19
INTRODUCED BY D. ECK, C. WILLIAMS, S. BARTLETT, J. BOHLINGER, P. CLARK, J. ELLINGSON,
D. EWER, L. GROSFIELD, W. MCNUTT, D. WYATT
A JOINT RESOLUTION OF THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MONTANA REQUESTING THAT AN APPROPRIATE INTERIM COMMITTEE STUDY THE IMPOSITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY, THE CARRYING OUT OF THE DEATH PENALTY SENTENCE, AND THE RATIONALE FOR CONTINUING TO KEEP THE DEATH PENALTY AS ONE FORM OF PUNISHMENT; AND REQUIRING THE COMMITTEE TO REPORT ITS FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS.
WHEREAS, since the United States Supreme Court reinstated the imposition of the death penalty as a constitutionally legitimate sentence in 1976, the State of Montana has executed two inmates, both within the last 4 years; and
WHEREAS, the use of the death penalty as a criminal sentence sparks an emotional debate, making any objective analysis of the effectiveness of capital punishment in Montana a difficult endeavor; and
arguments justifying the use of the death penalty, specifically the sentence's effect as a deterrent to criminal
activity, are IS being challenged; and
WHEREAS, in some states, the cost of
life A LIFETIME OF imprisonment AND ASSOCIATED LEGAL
PROCEEDINGS has been reported to be markedly less , one-third the cost in the State of Texas, than the costs associated
with death penalty legal proceedings; and
WHEREAS, other states, reacting to the increasing costs of death penalty court proceedings, have placed limits on the opportunities to appeal death sentences; and
WHEREAS, advances in forensic sciences
, coupled with organized public pressure, have led to the release of several
improperly accused death row inmates in Illinois; and WHEREAS, across the country, death row inmates have been executed, only to have their innocence proved after their
WHEREAS, charges that the death penalty is imposed arbitrarily to the detriment of minority populations, the mentally ill, or the poor raise critical questions about whether Montana has adequate safeguards in place; and
WHEREAS, corrections professionals, judges, and the legal profession, including the American Bar Association, have begun to question the use of the death penalty and are seeking scholarly public policy forums to better recognize the effect of the death penalty on the victims' families, the criminal justice system, and the public's perception about use of the death penalty; and
WHEREAS, Montana policymakers, with assistance from the public, should supplement the ongoing national discussion surrounding the appropriateness of the death penalty by conducting an analysis of death penalty costs, its effectiveness as a deterrent, and its implementation within the context of Montana's social structure.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
That an appropriate interim committee be assigned to conduct a focused study of the imposition and carrying out of the death penalty in Montana with the broad purposes of:
(1) compiling the history of the imposition and application of the death penalty in Montana;
(2) determining the impact of the death penalty as a deterrent to criminal activity;
(3) disseminating applicable research being conducted in other states relevant to the prohibition or imposition of the death penalty;
(4) collecting accurate information as to the true cost of pursuing a death penalty case in terms of fiscal resources, time spent preparing CASES and appealing judgments, and carrying out the sentence contrasted to the TRUE costs of PURSUING A LIFETIME OF IMPRISONMENT CASE AND OF incarcerating a violent offender for the remainder of the offender's natural life;
(5) analyzing the effects of the inevitable delays in final disposition of sentencing on victims' families, correctional officers, and the public in death penalty AND LIFETIME OF IMPRISONMENT cases; and
(6) examining the potential for the disproportionate application of the death penalty on minorities, the mentally ill, and low-income offenders.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the committee:
(1) may request assistance from:
(a) the personnel of agencies of state and local government, including the Montana University System;
(b) private entities that are integrally associated with a legitimate research project or activity established to conduct a study on the use or imposition of the death penalty; and
(c) other persons who may have relevant information about or insights into the death penalty in Montana; and
(2) shall prepare a report of its findings, conclusions, options for further consideration, and recommendations, including legislation or amendments to the Montana Constitution, if advisable, to the Governor and the 57th Legislature.
- END -
Latest Version of SJ 19 (SJ0019.02)
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