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Hickenlooper says he'd suspend death penalty as president

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said Wednesday that he would suspend the death penalty if he were elected to the White House. 

Hickenlooper, who officially launched his presidential campaign earlier this month, said the death penalty "makes no sense" during a CNN presidential town hall in Atlanta.

"It's expensive, it prolongs misery, and the worst thing, it is random. Depending on where that crime occurs and, in many cases, whether the killer is African-American or Latino, that has a lot to do with who gets tried on a death penalty charge," he said. "The random injustice of that is something this country should never stand for." 

"The vast majority of cases in the federal death penalty system, I'd have to be suspicious just to start," he added. "I certainly would suspend the death penalty." 

As Colorado governor, Hickenlooper refused to execute Nathan Dunlap, who was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of four employees at an Aurora Chuck E. Cheese's restaurant. He added that he would do the same for 63 inmates currently on federal death row.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), another 2020 presidential candidate, praised California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) for halting the death penalty in the Golden State.

"As a career law enforcement official, I have opposed the death penalty because it is immoral, discriminatory, ineffective, and a gross misuse of taxpayer dollars," Harris said. "The symbol of our justice system is a woman with a blindfold. It is supposed to treat all equally, but the application of the death penalty - a final and irreversible punishment - has been proven to be unequally applied."

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