BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Legislation to abolish the death penalty in Louisiana was voted down 5-1 Tuesday in a state Senate committee.
Sen. Katrina Jackson sponsored the bill, which was rejected by the Senate Judiciary “C” Committee.
Jackson argued that the state shouldn’t have the power to take a life. And she said there is no way of knowing how many innocent people have been executed.
“We cannot, as a state, ever give someone their life back,” said Jackson, backed by Catholic and Episcopal officials and prominent death penalty opponents including Sister Helen Prejean.
Bill Quigley, a Loyola law professor, said the various costs involved in maintaining the death penalty system in the state — including higher costs of keeping inmates on death row and the public cost for defense and prosecution over a series of trials and appeals — comes to more than $15 million annually.
Defenders of the death penalty said it is appropriate and just in some instances.
“If you take that option away from our constituents, that’s something I can’t do,” said Sen. Bodie White, a Republican from Central, who told Jackson he has seen horrific crime scenes. He expressed confidence that the state has taken steps to prevent unjust convictions.
John Sinquefield, a longtime prosecutor in Baton Rouge, said the death penalty is now used in Louisiana for “the very worst of the worst.”
The state hasn’t carried out an execution since 2010, amid litigation and controversy over the availability of drugs used in lethal injection.
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