Bill To Reinstate Death Penalty In Iowa Clears First Hurdle In Senate

Des Moines, Iowa — A bill to reinstate the death penalty in Iowa for kidnapping, raping and murdering a person under the age of 18 has cleared one hurdle in the Iowa Senate, but it faces key opposition in the Iowa House.

Senator Brad Zaun, a Republican from Urbandale, and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says with new members making up about a third of the legislature this year, he’s making another try.

Republican Representative Steven Holt of Denison is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Holt says he could support the death penalty on moral grounds, but there are too many practical problems with it. Getting the drugs for a lethal injection has become increasingly difficult and Holt says there are people who’ve been sentenced to death who have later been exonerated.

During a Senate subcommittee hearing on February 15th, a representative of the state’s four Catholic bishops spoke out against the death penalty. Reverend Heather Wachendorf of New Beginnings Christian Church in Urbandale was among three pastors who testified.

Terry Pierce of West Des Moines was the only member of the public at the hearing who spoke in favor of the limited form of capital punishment outlined in the bill.

Iowa abolished the death penalty in 1965. In 1995, the Iowa House narrowly voted to reinstate capital punishment, but the bill was defeated in the Senate.



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