Louisiana Senate to debate ending the death penalty

Louisiana Senate to debate ending the death penalty

Baton Rouge, LA - A Senate judiciary committee on Tuesday approved a bill that would eliminate the death penalty in Louisiana effective August 1.

Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, authored the bill, reasoning that the death penalty is an outdated and costly means of punishment.

"The death penalty is an archaic holdover from a time where we were not as civilized as we are today," Morrell said.

Sen. Bodi White, R-Central, provided the only vocal opposition. He argued that abolishing the death penalty would have no effect on the state's high rate of violent crime.

Morrell responded that "we have had the death penalty on the books since the founding of our state, and it has not deterred violent crime."

"Increasingly, we are finding individuals that commit these violent crimes are mentally unbalanced," Morrell said. "Many of them are tortured, damaged people who do horrific things because they don't value human life."

Morrell's bill advanced by a 4-1 vote. Two Democratic senators, Troy Carter of New Orleans and Regina Barrow of Baton Rouge, voted for the bill, as did two Republicans, Sen. Dan Claitor of Baton Rouge, the committee chairman, and Sen. Fred Mills of Parks.

White cast the lone no vote. Sen. Yvonne Colomb, D-Baton Rouge, and Sen. Jonathan Perry, R-Kaplan, were not present.

Since 2000, seven people on death row in Louisiana had been exonerated, while only two had been executed, according to the Louisiana Budget Project. Louisiana conducted its last execution in 2010.

A federal court has barred the state from carrying out executions since 2014 in part because of difficulties in obtaining the drugs considered humane for lethal injections.

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