Friday is an exciting day at the Capitol. Montanans from across the state will gather there to urge their senators and representatives to abolish the death penalty.

The event will feature meetings with legislators throughout, activities in the Rotunda from 10 a.m.- noon and lunch at noon. Stop by our video booth from 1-2 p.m. in the Rotunda to tell us why you support abolishing the death penalty.

This is a diverse movement. The Montana Abolition Coalition includes the ACLU of Montana, the Montana Human Rights Network, the Montana Association of Churches and the Montana Catholic Conference. Our reasons for opposing the death penalty may differ, but our commitment to its abolition in Montana has kept us together as coalition for 15 years now.

And we really believe this is the year we will succeed.

One reason is that our coalition continues to grow. Over the past year, the newly formed Montana Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty has been taking the message to a new audience.

The legislators leading the charge are also diverse and come from both sides of the aisle. They will tell you that ending the broken death penalty system isn't a partisan issue. It's a human issue. It's a financial issue. It's the right thing to do.

"We realize that the death penalty simply doesn't work and it's time for Montana to stop. To stop wasting our precious resources on this. Every state cost study has found that the death penalty costs run into the millions and accomplish nothing," said State Representative Doug Kary (R-Billings), who will sponsor the bill, at a press conference on Monday.

"Executions create many victims. Not only the family members of the person who is executed, but the people we ask to carry out the machinery of death in our name and that's our employees in our Montana correctional system," said Representative Margie MacDonald (D-Billings), another sponsor.

In the Senate, the bill is being sponsored by long-time abolition supporter Sen. Dave Wanzenreid (D-Missoula) and Sen. Matthew Rosendale (R-Glendive).

Also today:
House Judiciary Committee 8 a.m., Room 137 

  • HB 335 Revise sexual offender laws

Senate Judiciary Committee 9 a.m., Room 303 

  • SB 9 Establish the corrections advisory council
  • SB 198 Revise laws related to penalties for assault on a minor

Hearings and floor sessions can be accessed online.