New Orleans Senator JP Morrell leads a new study commission trying to determine how much Louisiana agencies spend on the death penalty. Morrell, a Democrat, says the idea came to mind when the current combination of drugs used for lethal injection became unavailable and seeing what happened in other states.
"The chemical composition that they were basically making on the fly to try and replace the existing protocols led to botched executions, exposing those states to millions of dollars in liability under the Constitution for cruel and unusual punishment."
Morrell says they want to find out if it is too expensive for the state to enforce the death penalty. He says several factors must be considered when determining the cost of the death penalty.
"What's the price tag on putting someone on death row, running through all the various appeals, and, ultimately, what's the cost of executing them?"
He says, right now, when the state budget is so bad, the actual cost of enforcing the death penalty should be considered. Views differ widely on the topic. Morrell says prosecutors will say the cost of executing someone is negligible, while defense attorneys say it cost millions of dollars.
"And we're really just trying to get an accurate number as far as what that cost actually is."