A constitutional amendment to abolish the death penalty in Louisiana passed a Senate committee on 4-2 vote. Co-author of the measure, New Iberia Representative Terry Landry, says the punishment is immoral and the system is far from perfect.

“I also think that government-sanctioned killing is wrong.  People will say and eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but we all know as long as the human element is involved in our justice systems, there is room for error,” said Landry.

New Orleans Senator JP Morrell says if prosecutors seek the death penalty, the state has infinite resources to defend that decision compared to a person who is handed the sentence. Morrell highlights that if it wasn’t for the intervention with extra resources of advocacy groups, the state has previously held exonerated people on death row.

“An innocent person would have been killed.  With that being said, in how many instances did that outside intervention not manifest itself to prevent an innocent person from being killed,” said Morrell.

21st Judicial District Attorney Scott Perrilloux spoke in opposition of the measure, saying the option of the death penalty is needed for the most severe homicide cases.

“When someone runs a truckload of explosives into a daycare center, innocent children are killed, what are we going to do when that happens in Louisiana and we tell them that it’s life in prison,” said Perrilloux.

Perrilloux says the intricacy that goes into death penalty cases today ensures the accuracy of the current system.

“Because of the efforts of this legislature, with the funding of capital cases, and the appelate review of those cases, the system works,” said Perrilloux.

The measure heads to the Senate floor. It will need two-thirds approval in both the House and Senate. If it gets legislative approval, then it would appear on the November 2020 presidential ballot.

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