Governor John Bel Edwards Calls on Louisiana Lawmakers to End the Death Penalty
BATON ROUGE, La. (KPEL News) - On Monday, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards gave his last State of the State Address as the 2023 Louisiana Legislative Session began.
Well, it was the last address of his second term in office. In Louisiana, a governor can only serve two terms in a row but can run for election again after sitting out a 4-year term. Edwin Edwards was elected twice after his first two consecutive terms (1972-1980, 1984-1988, and 1992-1996).
John Bel Edwards used the speech to address a wish list of issues he has long supported: raising minimum wage, supporting family medical leave, and closing the gender pay gap. In this speech, though, he went on the record publicly calling on the Louisiana Legislature to end the death penalty in Louisiana.
Lastly, and certainly still on the topic of being a pro-life state, for the first time I am calling on the legislature to end the death penalty in Louisiana. I am asking that you look at the death penalty in Louisiana in 2023 with fresh eyes and an open mind. In short: it is difficult to administer – one execution in 20 years. It is extremely expensive – tens of millions more spent prosecuting and defending capital cases, and tens of millions more spent maintaining death row over those same 20 years.
Our criminal justice system is far from perfect. Over the same 20 years there have been six exonerations from death row and more than 50 reversals of sentences and/or convictions. It doesn’t deter crime; it isn’t necessary for public safety; and more importantly, it is wholly inconsistent with Louisiana’s pro-life values as it quite literally promotes a culture of death.
For these reasons I support Rep. Kyle Green’s bill to abolish the death penalty.
The death penalty is a bit of a controversial topic in the state. The issue is also very split across the country as 26 other states still support it. Sure, it's rarely used today but some prosecutors prefer having the option there, especially as it pertains to getting justice for the families of murder victims.
Can’t be here today because they slaughtered, murdered, shot, dumped in swamps, dumped in ditches...they can’t be here. What if they could be here, what would they say about the death penalty? They might have a different perspective.
Those were the words of John Sinquefield in this WAFB article. He is a prosecutor who has testified in opposition to the death penalty being abolished.
Is there enough momentum for lawmakers to get behind Green's bill after not enough lawmakers have supported death penalty ban legislation in the past? We will find out very soon.