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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…

Louisiana: Both sides quote Bible in death penalty debate as effort to abolish dies

Louisiana's death row
BATON ROUGE — A House committee killed a bill to repeal the death penalty here Wednesday, likely ending efforts to abolish the ultimate punishment for another year despite a duplicate bill still alive in the Senate.

Members of the House Criminal Justice Committee voted 10-8 to defer House Bill 162 by Rep. Terry Landry, D-New Iberia, with both sides quoting the Bible to support their positions.

Though Senate Bill 51 by Sen. JP Morrell, D-New Orleans, earned a favorable committee vote Tuesday, he is unlikely to move forward knowing his bill would have to go through House Criminal Justice if it won full Senate approval.

"I'll have to reevaluate for sure," Morrell said in a text to USA Today Network. "I certainly would take the House vote into account when deciding what to do."

Landry, former leader of the State Police, said what has become an annual effort to abolish the death penalty is his most important legislation "because it literally decides life and death."

"The death sentence is barbaric and inhumane," he testified when presenting his bill.

Landry was supported by faith leaders and defense attorneys who cited the sanctity of all life and the inexact administration of justice that has led to some death sentences being overturned.

"This bill has the unified and unwavering support of every bishop in Louisiana," said Robert Tasman, executive director of the Louisiana Conference of Bishops.

On Tuesday in the Senate, Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, representing the conference, said, "“The Catholic Church considers the death penalty an offense against the sanctity of life.”

Both prosecutors and the majority of the committee said the death penalty is appropriate for the most heinous crimes and a valuable tool in prosecuting criminals.

"I've sat with family members who have lost their children; I've held the hand of a widow whose police officer husband was murdered in the line of duty," said Loren Lampert, a prosecutor in the Calcasieu Parish District Attorney's office.

"This is about standing for victims of the most heinous crimes," he said.

Rep. Raymond Crews, R-Bossier City, said he rejected the testifying clergy's argument that someone who is against abortion should support abolishing the death penalty.

"When you take the (death penalty) off the table it degrades the lives taken," Crews said. "We're spending all of this effort on this bill when two people have been (executed) since 2000 and 25 are being killed today in abortion clinics."

Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, is a minister who said the death penalty "is a Biblical precept from beginning to end."

But those supporting Landry's bill disagreed.

"I believe it's the business of God to take lives, not ours," said Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport.

And some shared the sentiment of Rep. Joe Marino, Independent-Gretna.

"I just can't get past the fact we might execute and innocent person," Marino said.

Source: USA Today, Greg Hilburn, April 11, 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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