NEW VOICES: Former Law Enforcement Officials, Judges, Faith Leaders Urge Commutation for Colorado Inmate

On May 6, more than 20 former judges and prosecutors, religious leaders, mental health experts, and many others called on Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (pictured) to commute Nathan Dunlap's death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The group's statement cited racial and geographic disparities in the state's application of capital punishment as reasons why Dunlap should not be executed. Among those sending letters supporting clemency were former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Jean Dubofsky, former Arapahoe County Deputy District Attorney Richard Bloch, Denver's Catholic Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, and Rev. Dr. Jim Ryan of the Colorado Council of Churches, which represents over 850 member congregations. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, also expressed support for clemency. A letter to the governor signed by former judges stated, “We urge you to grant clemency because the death penalty in Colorado is deeply flawed. These facts depict a system that acts in an arbitrary fashion, based on factors such as race and geography." The group noted that all three of those on Colorado's death row are African American, all from the same county, and all were under age 21 at the time of their crime.

When he was 19, Dunlap killed four people at a restaurant that he had formerly worked at. He has apologized for his actions.

(Press Release, "Former Judges and Prosecutors, Faith Leaders, the NAACP, CO Latino Forum, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Academics and Others Call on Governor Hickenlooper to Commute Nathan Dunlap's Death Sentence to Life In Prison Without the Possibility of Parole," May 6, 2013).  See Clemency and New Voices.