Saturday, 27 January 2007

Legislature Considers Death Penalty Bills


Legislature Considers Death Penalty Bills

The legislature is considering three bills dealing with the state's death penalty.

Governor Mike Rounds has introduced one that would let the warden at the penitentiary decide which drugs and how many are used in a lethal injection.

Two others take the death penalty debate a step further

Those two bills - one in the House and one in the Senate - if passed, would get rid of the death penalty in South Dakota.

One of the bill's sponsors says this is the time to discuss the purpose of capital punishment in the state.

Democratic Representative Bill Thompson of Sioux Falls sponsored the house bill to eliminate the death penalty in South Dakota. He says with Elijah Page scheduled to be put to death this summer, now's the time to discuss execution in the state.

Thompson says, "We have the postponment of the execution. We also have other legislation dealing with the lethal injections."

Thompson's had his own experience with crime - a family member was murdered. While the person convicted in the crime took their own life, he says those actions didn't bring his family any more closure.

Thompson says, "Whether it had been a killing by the state or as it was by his own hand that really has not done anything in terms of healing all the wounds that came about as a result of murder."

And regardless of whether his bill passes, he hopes it makes it to the floor so lawmakers are able to discuss it.

"I would like every legislator to have the opportunity to deal with the issue to participate in the debate, to cast a vote on it," Thompson said.

All three bills have been introduced in their chambers of the legislature.

The Senate bill moves on to the Senate Affairs Committee on Monday morning.

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