In 1998, the ACLU of Montana, the Montana Catholic Conference, Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation, Montana Human Rights Network, and the Montana Association of Churches came together to form the Montana Abolition Coalition. In 1999, we sponsored 5 bills to limit or abolish the death penalty. Because of our efforts, a bill was passed to abolish the death penalty for people under the age of 18.
As the Coalition continued to grow, we continued to sponsor legislation to limit or abolish the death penalty – spurring conversations among our state leaders. We also committed to educating the people of Montana about the failed capital punishment system in our state – raising awareness and gaining support for full abolition.
In the 2007 legislative session, hearing for the abolition bill turned out victims’ families, attorneys, a former warden, former prosecutors, an assistant Attorney General, lawmakers, and a former Montana Supreme Court Justice. All came to ask the legislature to support abolition.
Since 2007, The Coalition has brought forward a bill every session to abolish the death penalty and replace it with life without the possibility of parole. The legislative effort continues to garner bipartisan support, with both Republican and Democratic sponsorship. Scores of Montanans voice their support for abolition, and lawmakers responded. The Coalition will continue to keep the issue before the legislature and the public, because Montanans want common sense policies that hold criminals accountable, provide healing for victims, and are fiscally responsible. The death penalty is none of these.