Mar 1, 2024 - Politics

Louisiana moves closer to bringing executions back

Illustration of a statue of Justice casting a shadow shaped like the grim reaper.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Louisiana lawmakers expanded the state's list of execution methods to include nitrogen hypoxia and the electric chair Thursday, moving the state closer to resuming the death penalty after a 14-year pause.

Why it matters: It marks a new era for Louisiana under Gov. Jeff Landry. His predecessor, John Bel Edwards, opposed the death penalty.

  • Proponents say this is an important step in getting justice for victims, while death penalty opponents say the new methods are cruel.

The big picture: The bill was one of more than a dozen to pass in the Republican-controlled legislature during a special session to overhaul the state's criminal justice system.

  • The state has relied on lethal injections since 1991, when its electric chair, dubbed "Gruesome Gertie," was banned.

Yes, but: The ingredients for lethal injections are increasingly hard to find.

  • The state hasn't had an execution since 2010 due to the shortage and legal battles, according to the Associated Press.

Other changes that passed include:

Between the lines: Landry campaigned on many of the issues covered in the special session.

The other side: Critics argue the changes won't reduce crime, and Democrats have said they'll be expensive to implement.

By the numbers: Lawmakers approved $26 million in spending during the session, according to the Louisiana Illuminator.

  • About $3 million will go to the Louisiana National Guard mission to help Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's immigration enforcement effort at the border.
  • Lawmakers also approved money for starting Troop NOLA, a new permanent Louisiana State Police troop in New Orleans.

What's next: Gov. Jeff Landry is expected to sign the bills into law next week.

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