Public Defender: LA death penalty study to include 16 parishes

Public Defender: La. death penalty study to include 16 parishes

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - When we last heard from the Capital Punishment Fiscal Impact Commission, the big question was how many parishes should the study consider when it comes to death penalty - or capital cases.

The Public Defender's Office now says 16 including EBR, Ascension and Tangipahoa.

"We open about 35 capital cases a year on average," said Jay Dixon, LA State Public Defender.

Dixon provided the commission new data Wednesday showing East Baton Rouge has 13 of Louisiana's 83 open capital cases.

The morning began hearing from Jim Craig, a defense attorney with 30-years experience working capital cases.

He says the costs of a death penalty trial, greatly depends on how promptly it's carried out.

"If no indication is given by the prosecutor about whether it's a capital case, at whatever point the prosecution decides it is a death penalty case, we have then done no groundwork with respect to the extensive investigation that has to be done," said Jim Craig, Co-Director, The Roderick & Solange MacArhur Justice Center.

Meantime across the hallway in another room, more members of the commission got together to discuss what other data the study should consider like psychological costs.

"How do you measure the loss of a child in dollars and cents and how does that equate to tax-payer dollars being spent," asked Liz Mangham, Capital Punishment Fiscal Impact Commission Subcommittee on Prosecution.

The commission hopes to answer that question at their next meeting.

They're hoping that happens by the end of March, before legislators go into session in April. If they can't get together then, they'll have to wait until the summer. The commission wants to finish the study by New Year's Day 2016.

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