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Could 2023 be the year the state shutters death row?

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BATON ROUGE - "I'm calling on the legislature to end the death penalty in Louisiana."

As Governor John Bel Edwards gave his final State of the State address Monday, there was a smattering of applause in support of his request to abolish the death penalty.

"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," he said in front of the legislature.

But could 2023 actually be the year that death row in Louisiana closes?

State Rep. Kyle Green (D) is hoping the third time's the charm for his bill abolishing the death penalty.

"I brought it again this year because I think it's something that should be brought to the legislature's consciousness," he said.

The ethics behind it have been debated for years, but here are the facts:

It's been more than 13 years since anyone has been executed in the state; Twenty years if you don't count Gerald Bordelon, who waived all of his appeals.

"Over the same 20 years, when we've executed one person, there have been six exonerations from death row and more than 50 reversals of sentences and or convictions," the governor said in his address.

Part of the reason for the break in executions is the shortage of drugs needed to complete the procedure.

"We can't get the drugs from the pharmaceutical companies because they realize they want their drugs to be used to save life, not take it," Green said.

While the state's 61 inmates sit on death row, they're costing tax payers $87 a day, each, which totals to almost $2 million a year.

"It takes almost 17 years from the time of conviction to the time of death. That money could be spent elsewhere better serving the public."

For comparison, based on the $55 a day it costs to keep inmates in general population at Angola, moving the death row inmates there would save the state around $700,000.

Currently in Louisiana, a person can get the death penalty for murder, rape, or treason. Louisiana is one of six states that has the death penalty as a punishment for rape, but the only state to actually sentence someone for it. Two people in fact, both of whom are still sitting on death row.

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