BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – For the first time, the governor of Louisiana is making a push to repeal the death penalty. Legislators and Catholic leaders are hoping this year will open things up to a much larger debate.
For years, advocates against the death penalty have been working to overturn the policy. There hasn’t been an execution for 13 years, but over 60 people wait on Louisiana’s death row.
Gov. John Bel Edwards is asking legislators to put their “pro-life” values into more of their policies by supporting families and ending death sentences.
“It is wholly inconsistent with Louisiana’s pro-life values, as it quite literally, by definition, promotes a culture of death,” Edwards said.
The state spends millions of dollars a year on capital punishment cases and the cost to run death row. State Rep. Kyle Green is bringing HB228 in his second attempt to change the state’s punishments and reroute that money.
“That’s money that could be used elsewhere in a state budget, particularly when we’re facing in the coming years what appears to be budgetary shortfalls,” Green said.
Louisiana has also exonerated 11 people from death row, making it one of the top states for exonerations.
“There’s no coming back from it. There’s no, you know, what do you tell a family? You know, when you find out years down the road that we made a mistake,” Green said.
Some Republicans say they are against the bill, citing the need for justice for the families of victims of the crimes. The argument is part of why the bill was hung up in a Senate committee last year.
“I really don’t think that, you know, taking your life is going to give any sense of justice to anyone.”
The bill has gained the support of religious leaders such as the Conference of Catholic Bishops. They hope the bill will make it out of committee for a full debate in each chamber this year.