For Second Year, Death Penalty Bill Clears Senate Committee

Apr 11, 2018
Originally published on April 11, 2018 8:00 am

A Senate committee has approved abolishing the death penalty in Louisiana. The bill’s author, Sen. JP Morrell (D-New Orleans), says the death penalty is ineffective. 

"As a state that leads the nation in incarceration, leads the nation in violent crime, in particular murder," he explained to members of the Senate Judiciary C committee Tuesday, "its purpose as a deterrent has obviously not worked." 

Right now in Louisiana, the death penalty can be handed down in cases of first degree murder, first degree rape and treason. Sen. Morrell’s bill would take that punishment off the table for crimes committed as of August 1 of this year.

Morrell says not only is the death penalty not a deterrent, it's increasingly difficult to execute someone. The last time Louisiana did so was in 2010. According to the Department of Corrections, the state doesn’t have the drugs required to carry out lethal injections.

"We have a problem right now with the drugs that were previously used for lethal injection. The companies that produce those drugs are no longer allowing them to be used for such," he said.

It’s not the first time these bills have been brought. Last year, the same bill was rejected by a House committee. And over in the Senate, it got to the floor, but was never debated.  

"I would argue that you have to keep bringing up the death penalty because every time you bring it up typically it picks up a little momentum,"  said Senator Morrell.

On Wednesday, a House committee is expected to hear a bill that, like Morrell’s, would abolish the death penalty in Louisiana for crimes committed after August 1, 2o18. Morrell says before the full Senate takes up his bill, they’ll want to see what happens in the House.

"If the House shows movement, shows a willingness to actually give it fair consideration, has a chance of passing, that’s really where we'll see this go somewhere or not," he explained.

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