Bill seeking death penalty abolition inspires emotional testimony

HELENA — Some families of murder victims lined up opposite side of a bill Thursday to abolish the death penalty in Montana and replace it with life imprisonment with no possibility of parole.

Some religious leaders also were divided on House Bill 370, by Rep. Doug Kary, R-Billings, at a long, emotional hearing before the House Judiciary Committee. The panel took no immediate action the bill.

Kary told the committee it isn’t a debate over whether the death penalty is philosophically or morally an acceptable punishment.

“This is about whether the death penalty is working here in Montana, whether it’s an effective policy,” he said. “I would argue it is not. I would argue it’s broken. If we haven’t executed an innocent person in Montana, it’s out of sheer luck.”
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