02 May 2019 :
Senate panel OKs bill to abolish death penalty. Senate Bill 112, that would allow Louisiana voters to decide whether to abolish the death penalty, cleared 4-2 its first hurdle, but it faces stronger headwinds moving forward. Senate Bill 112 by Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, now moves to the full Senate, where as a constitutional amendment it will require two-thirds approval. Sen. Claitor's bill advanced through the Senate Judiciary C Committee Tuesday after a debate that has become familiar in the State Capitol, with Catholic leaders invoking scripture and researchers citing statistics in arguing against the practice. Senate Bill 112, which lawmakers have brought several years in a row, will advance to the full Senate, while an identical one will start in a House committee that has killed similar efforts in recent years. The bill needs a two-thirds vote from both chambers, along with the blessing of Gov. John Bel Edwards. Proponents of the measure argued in Judiciary C Tuesday the death penalty is ineffective, costing the state $111 million in public defender spending along since 2008 while only executing one person, who volunteered. The head of a Catholic Bishop organization argued the punishment purports a "fallacy of justice" and is morally wrong. A Loyola University researcher cited the disparate effects of the death penalty on black defendants, and the state public defender noted people on death row are 3 times more likely to be exonerated than executed in Louisiana. “In order for you to believe the death penalty is something that’s appropriate, you have to hold the position that government doesn’t get it wrong," said state Sen. JP Morrell, who presented Claitor's bill along with Landry. The arguments against the bill were also familiar. 2 prosecutors said the death penalty is a much-needed tool for District Attorneys trying to bring justice to victims. Scott Perilloux, DA for the 21st Judicial District in Livingston Parish, said many of the cases where a death penalty sentence was reversed, cited by opponents of the practice, still ended in convictions. He also questioned lawmakers what prosecutors would do if there was a mass shooting in a church or another "shocking" event. If Claitor's bill passes, it would go on the ballot during the next presidential election. The state has not executed anyone since 2010, when a defendant volunteered. Edwards' administration has said it can't obtain lethal injection drugs, part of a nationwide issue as pharmaceutical companies don't want to be associated with executions.