Yesterday Rep. Smith listened to hours of public testimony as the Judiciary Committee considered Senate Bill (SB) 280 – An Act Revising the Penalty for Capital Felonies – which aims to repeal the State’s death penalty. The controversial measure drew both supporters and opponents to the Capitol for the opportunity to speak on the issue.
Rep. Smith is in favor of repeal for several reasons. One of his main issues with the death penalty is that too many innocent individuals put on death row have been exonerated due to DNA evidence. He also argued that it is too difficult to distinguish one heinous crime from the next, rendering the sentencing of a criminal too arbitrary and subjective when deciding between capital punishment and life imprisonment. Additionally, he believes that capital punishment is not a practical deterrent for crime, which is one of the main arguments for keeping the law.
Rep. Smith feels, however, that lawmakers need to tighten up the statute. Rep. Smith believes strongly that capital felons should be segregated from the rest of the prison population and go without many of the “perks” the general prison population enjoys, including access to television, etc.
The bill will soon be voted on by the Committee to determine whether or not it will progress in the legislative process.