Beyond Just Public Policy

Whether you are a new acquaintance of the Montana Abolition Coalition or an old friend, we have talked about and worked together to change a bad policy in Montana. We have focused our efforts on replacing the death penalty in our state with life without the possibility of parole.

We come from different perspectives, experiences, and have reasons for standing firm in our resolve to change the law. Our legislative efforts have come incredibly close in recent years, and the policy is being abolished in more states all the time (Connecticut just last month).

Our efforts have highlighted the many reasons the death penalty is flawed. It is more costly to our state to seek and carry out a death sentence than a sentence of life without parole. Innocent people have been sentenced for crimes they didn’t commit inour state, and we don’t want to wait for an innocent person to be put to death. The death penalty is applied unequally to those in poverty and people of color in our state. The death penalty tears about victim’s families in our state and takes away money from needed victim services. People of faith and faith leaders in our state find the death penalty incongruent with their teachings.

But, the problems with the death penalty don’t just exist in the world of public policy. Montana’s Governor must now decide whether or not to grant clemency to Ron Smith, who has asked for his death sentence to be converted to life without the possibility of parole.

Smith is Canadian and, like most countries, Canada doesn’t have the death penalty. The Canadian government is asking for Smith’s life to be spared.  Like many cases, inconsistency in sentencing is apparent in this case. One of Smith’s accomplices received a greatly-reduced sentence, was released from prison years ago on parole, and has returned to Canada. Smith is only asking for a life-without-parole sentence, not to be released. Smith says he is remorseful for his crime and is a changed person.

If the policy is bad for our state, so to is the execution of Smith. It gets hard when it gets personal, however, at the end of the day, we know that our community can be kept safe with a life-without-parole sentence. We can take Smith out of the spotlight and start talking about what could be done with all the resources saved by ending the death penalty, such as increased funding for services that victims’ families need.

We are giving you this opportunity to write Governor Schweitzer and request that he grant the clemency of Ron Smith and convert his sentence to life without parole.

Sincerely,

The Montana Abolition Coalition

Email the Governor at:
http://governor.mt.gov/contact/commentsform.asp

Or write to:
Governor Brian SchweitzerOffice of the Governor, Montana State Capitol
PO Box 200801
Helena, MT 59620-0801

or via fax:
406 444 5529