In a vote of 26 to 24, the Senate has endorsed legislation to abolish the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without parole.
During Monday’s Senate floor session, bill supporters said the death penalty is a form of murder, and sometimes it’s carried out on innocent people.
But, Opponents argued Montana uses the death penalty sparingly, and execution is required in some cases for the sake of justice..
They also said it deters crime, and can be used as a bargaining tool to get a conviction.
Senator Kendall Van Dyk told lawmakers settling on which way to vote is a difficult, personal decision.
“I know that each one of us are asking ourselves very important questions. I cannot in good conscience tell anyone how I think you should vote. All I can urge you to do is vote your conscience,” he said.
The bill faces one more vote in the Senate.