Saturday, January 10, 2015

Indiana senator proposes repealing the death penalty

Indiana Senate Bill 136, authored by Sen. Lonnie Randolph, seeks to repeal the state's death penalty statute and reduce the punishments of those awaiting execution to life imprisonment without parole, reported the Indianapolis Star.
The death penalty in Indiana is allowed only in murder cases. The bill also would prohibit the court from sentencing a convicted murderer to life imprisonment without parole if that person is deemed mentally ill.
The Legislative Services Agency estimates that the bill, if it becomes law, would cost the state about $1 million to keep the current death row population imprisoned for life.
About a dozen inmates are awaiting execution in Indiana. Six people are awaiting death penalty trials in Indiana.
According to the Legislative Services Agency, the average cost of representing a defendant facing a death penalty is significantly more expensive than that of someone facing life imprisonment without parole. The agency estimates that the state would save about $166,400 per murder case if life imprisonment without parole becomes the most serious sentence a defendant could face.
Indiana has not had an execution since 2009. The last person to be executed was Matthew Wrinkles, who was convicted of killing his estranged wife, her brother and her brother's wife in 1994.
The state has executed about 150 prisoners, 20 of them in the past four decades.
Indiana is one of 32 states that have a death penalty statute. In recent years, New Mexico, Illinois, Connecticut and Maryland abolished theirs.
Capital punishment became law in Indiana in 1897. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned state death penalty laws in 1972. The statute was reinstated in Indiana five years later.
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