Capitol Views: Amid criminal justice review, senators advance death penalty ban

As state senators waded through bills today to enhance, correct and reverse portions of last year’s criminal justice reforms, a proposal to eliminate Louisiana’s death penalty emerged from the committee process. Senate Bill 51 by Sen. JP Morrell, a New Orleans Democrat, now heads to the full Senate for further consideration.

Morrell is treading familiar policy ground. A similar bill made it to the Senate last year, but it stalled there and never received a floor hearing. Hoping for a different outcome, Morrell told the Senate Judiciary C Committee that the state’s death penalty has become outdated and cost prohibitive—during a time when Louisiana should be endeavoring to be progressive and frugal.

Before voting 4-1 to advance Morrell’s legislation, committee members also heard from a Catholic bishop who endorsed the bill. As for the opposition, it was quiet. There were no impassioned pleas and only one opposition card was filed with the committee. But that doesn’t mean it’s smooth sailing for the issue during this regular session…


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