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Capital punishment prohibition would cost LA lives

Young and energetic state Rep.Walker Hines has a good idea in HB 432 which would limit lobbyist emoluments for food and rink for legislators to $50 a day from the present (presumably) $150 per day. If only his HB 323 which would outlaw capital punishment was as well-substantiated and as clearly considered.

Democrat Hines thinks that the death penalty does not serve as a deterrent. "We have to err on the side of life," he says, and is also anti-abortion. But clearly he does not know the research involving the death penalty because to err on the side of life, you must favor capital punishment simply because study after study for 40 years has shown it does deter murders at rate exceeding rate of commission of the sentence.

By definition, first-degree murder is a premeditated crime (leaving out the other two instances allowed under Louisiana law for imposition of capital punishment, aggravated rape of a child 13 or younger, and treason even though both also appear to assume premeditation). Human beings are assumed to be behaving rationally in premeditation is proven, so for that reason they respond to incentives and disincentives. Knowledge that plotting and executing a murder can cost you your life simply will deter some people, as these studies have demonstrated as many as 18 lives per execution.

Additionally, the speed of carrying out the sentence also deters, at a rate of a murder per 2.75 years. Nor, research shows, is the application of the penalty discriminatory. And with modern forensics and careful judicial review, mistaken applications of it can be set to zero (such as in this case).

There’s another moral component to it besides saving lives. For those who deserve and receive such a sentence, knowledge of impending death focuses these people on and allows them to repent before it’s too late. Perhaps only such a penalty will get these people to renounce evil and embrace salvation. Saving souls never should be treated lightly, as odious as any taking life may be.

In short, Hines bill would reduce respect for life and allow needless homicides. Hopefully, it’s just an error of ignorance, not one of putting aside facts to pursue an ideological agenda. Let’s hope he understands this and yanks the bill, or, if he fails to, other clearer-headed legislators will make sure it never becomes law. Lives depend on that.

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