Bill to Reinstate the Death Penalty in Iowa Advances to Next Stage

February 13, 2018 Updated: February 13, 2018

A bill that would bring the death penalty back into play has advanced in Iowa to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The bill would allow officials to execute people convicted of crimes like murdering a peace officer and first-degree murder involving kidnapping or rape, reported KCCI.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 46 people in Iowa were executed from 1834 and 1965.

In 1965, the death penalty in the state was abolished.

Senate Study Bill 3134, which would bring back the death penalty, advanced on Monday, Feb. 12, after being approved by a Senate subcommittee on a 3-2 vote.

According to the Des Moines Register, the three Republicans on the subcommittee were in favor while the two Democrats opposed.

Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker was among those who testified in support of the death penalty, recalling a tragic day in May 2017 when an inmate got loose and killed a deputy before fleeing and committing additional crimes.

“My concern is that now he will probably be incarcerated for the rest of his life. I hate to see him injure or kill anybody else in prison or jail. He has no remorse. That is the way he thinks. When an opportunity comes up, he will kill again,” Danker said.

Opposition to the bill included Chief Deputy Iowa Attorney General Eric Tabor, who said a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole is already a de facto death sentence.

But Sen. Dan Dawson [R-Council Bluffs], said: “there has to be a higher penalty” for those who commit serious crimes and show no remorse, and who demonstrate they are a threat while in prison, reported the Sioux City Journal.

Sen. Julian Garrett [R-Indianola], the chair of the subcommittee, said that the absence of a death penalty is almost an incentive for murder.

“There needs to be something more,” Garrett said.

Sen. Tony Bisignano [D-Des Moines], who opposed the bill in the subcommittee vote, told the Journal that the bill shouldn’t be rushed.

“This is not the bill to rush,” Bisignano said. “I will do everything I can to slow the bill down so that people truly have the opportunity to understand what they’re voting for.”

A poll conducted by the Register this year noted that 58 percent of the 801 respondents were in favor of reinstituting the death penalty, while 36 percent were opposed.

The previous poll, in 2013, showed 65 percent of respondents in favor.



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