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In the Bible Belt, Christmas Isn’t Coming to Death Row

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When it comes to the death penalty, guilt or innocence shouldn’t really matter to Christians.  

NASHVILLE — Until August, Tennessee had not put a prisoner to death in nearly a decade. Last Thursday, it performed its third execution in four months.
This was not a surprising turn of events. In each case, recourse to the courts had been exhausted. In each case Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, declined to intervene, though there were many r…

Bill proposed to eliminate Louisiana death penalty by August 1st

Louisiana's death row
BATON ROUGE, La. (LSU Manship School News Service) - 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 J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, authored the bill, reasoning that the death penalty is an outdated and costly means of punishment.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.

Louisiana is one of 32 states with a death penalty. There are 72 people on death row in Louisiana.

Similar bills to abolish the death penalty were introduced last year by Sen. Claitor and Rep. Terry Landry, D-New Iberia. Claitor’s passed in a committee but was shelved after Landry’s bill failed to advance from a House panel.

Louisiana's death chamberA much bigger test of the proposal to end the death penalty could come Wednesday when a new bill by Landry, HB162, will be considered before the same House committee that killed his proposal last year.

No members of the public voiced opposition to the proposal at Tuesday’s hearing.

Representatives from the Louisiana District Attorney’s Association and the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association filed red cards in opposition to the bill but did not speak, possibly electing to save their dissent for the more conservative House committee.

In the meeting Tuesday, Claitor, the committee chairman, brought up the financial burden of capital cases. Morrell agreed, saying in particular that the Louisiana Public Defender Board spends a “tremendous” portion of its annual funding outsourcing capital cases to more expensive criminal defense attorneys.

A 2016 study by the Louisiana Budget Project reported that one-third of the Louisiana Public Defender Board’s annual budget of $33 million was spent on capital cases.

Source: klb.com, Paul Braun & Devon Sanders, April 10, 2018


Proposal to abolish Louisiana death penalty advances


Among those testifying in favor of the measure was Houma-Thibodaux’s Catholic bishop, Shelton Fabre

BATON ROUGE -- Legislation that would abolish the death penalty in Louisiana is advancing to the Senate for consideration.

Senate Bill 51, sponsored by New Orleans Democrat Sen. J.P. Morrell, passed out of the Senate Judiciary C Committee on a 4-1 vote today.

“Life in prison without possibility of parole is in itself a death sentence,” Morrell said.

The move comes a day after the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled Allen Robertson Jr. is not intellectually disabled and is to remain on death row. The Baton Rouge man known as “Lil Boo” was sentenced to die in 1995 for stabbing an elderly couple to death 27 years ago.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III supported the court’s decision.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that intellectually disabled defendants cannot be executed.

Louisiana allows the possibility of a death sentence for those convicted of first-degree murder, as well as in cases of first-degree rape of victims under the age of 13. A death sentence is mandatory for the crime of treason. Louisiana is one of 31 states in the U.S. to allow the death penalty.

Louisiana's State Penitentiary
Morrell said in the hearing that it’s becoming increasingly hard and expensive to carry out the death penalty.

Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, raised concern about the cost of sentencing criminals to life sentences instead of to death, but Morrell said the state could face millions if convicts are wrongfully killed.

Houma-Thibodaux Bishop Shelton J. Fabre testified on behalf of the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops as a “pastor of souls.” He said the death penalty perpetuates the cycle of violence and a “culture of death,” and said he felt the bill was crucial to promoting a “culture of life” in Louisiana.

“The Catholic Church considers the death penalty an offense against the sanctity of life,” Fabre said. “Therefore, the use of the death penalty is unnecessary and unjustified in our time.”

Sen. Mack “Bodi” White, R-Baton Rouge, the only vote against SB51, said he didn’t believe the measure would curb violent crimes.

A bill to end the death penalty in the House was killed last year.

If approved by the full Senate, the bill would head to the House for consideration. The bill would apply to crimes committed after Aug. 1.

How they voted:

For: Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge; Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge; Fred Mills, R-Parks; and Troy Carter, D-New Orleans.

Against: Bodi White, R-Central.

Source: dailyplanet.com, Natalie Anderson The Advocate (Baton Rouge), April 10, 2018


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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