Lawmakers vote to kill bill to eliminate death penalty

Tensions grew high while lawmakers debated one of Louisiana’s most controversial laws, the death penalty, on Wednesday, May 24.
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 5:33 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Tensions grew high while lawmakers debated one of Louisiana’s most controversial laws, the death penalty, on Wednesday, May 24.

“One of the questions I get all the time is, ‘Why don’t you guys in the legislature do something about this? Why can’t you protect us? Why can’t you make us feel safe when we go to sleep at night?’” said Rep. Raymond Garofalo Jr., R-Chalmette.

For the second year in a row, HB228 by Rep. Kyle Green Jr., D-Marrero, was shot down.

Louisiana is one of 27 states that still have the death penalty, but it has not executed anyone in the last 13 years. That’s why Rep. Green said he keeps trying.

He also cites his faith in God and the fact Louisiana has had 11 death row exonerations as reasons he and others want it gone.

“You are really not pro-death penalty until you can take that life yourself. Someone could kill my four kids, kill a member of my family, and I don’t care what they’ve done, I could not do it,” explained Rep. Green.

“Nobody understands how the family is impacted, the trauma that my brother has experienced over the years and continues to two decades later,” I mean my biological father was murdered, but it was black on black crime, so nobody was brought to justice for it,” said Monique Colemen, who drove down from Texas to talk about her brother.

He was one of the 11 exonerated cases on death row in Louisiana.

It’s been said the death penalty has a racial component attached to it because most on death row are African American, which was quickly rejected by 18th JDC District Attorney Tony Clayton.

“Some of you asked the question about whether are there any Black families asking for the death penalty, any white families,” said Clayton. “I’ve walked and been on many crime scenes. And when a mother cries, she’s not crying Black tears or white tears, she’s crying tears of pain.”

He and others involved in law enforcement said the threat of getting the death penalty works as a deterrent to keep criminals from killing police officers and children.

“If we are the only state in the deep South that abolishes the death penalty, we’re gonna become a magnet for pedophile killers, serial killers, gang-related killers,” added John Sinquefield with the Louisiana Department of Justice. “We’re gonna be a magnet if we’re this little island right down in the middle with no death penalty.”

So, the death penalty will still be around in Louisiana for at least another year but don’t be surprised if we see the same proposal return to the State Capitol next year.

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