BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — There is a renewed push to abolish the death penalty in Louisiana. On Tuesday, faith leaders descended upon the Capitol to show their support for two bills moving through the process.
The two bills in the legislature revive an age-old debate on the death penalty that has tried and failed in the past. But Sen. Katrina Jackson and Rep. Kyle Green are pushing through with competing bills that would end the practice.
Jackson points out that 11 people on death row have been exonerated in Louisiana. In the state’s history, it has put 28 people to death.
“The truth is, Louisiana at any time can punish and kill an innocent person,” Sen. Jackson said.
Sister Helen Prejean joined the ranks to call for the end of the punishment.
“We make mistakes and in our Catholic faith we believe we are pro-life, not just of the innocent life but even for guilty life, that even guilty people have a dignity that must not be taken from them,” Sister Helen said.
She, alongside other faith leaders and a group of schoolchildren, says that the “eye for an eye” practice robs people of their chance to rehabilitate.
“Not just a political point of view, but a religious point of view, that the message of Christ is to forgive and to not take away any opportunity a person has for conversion, for change, for renewal, for their eternal reward,” said Bishop Michael Gerard Duca of the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge.
Louisiana has not put someone to death since 2010. A big issue is that states can’t find the lethal drug cocktail to move forward with executions. Recently, a judge threw out a case of a Louisiana death row inmate that sued the state since it would not disclose how it would kill him.
“We cannot live in a world that seeks justice through harming other people,” said Shoshana Madick, senior program director of Avodah.
Sister Helen emphasized people don’t have the heart for the death penalty anymore as much as they used to. But it does still have support around the state and is expected to face fierce opposition when it reaches the committee.
Senator Jackson’s bill is expected to be first up for a hearing. They are aiming to do it next week, during Holy Week.