Lawmakers Consider Changes To Death Penalty Statute
By Mike Perleberg
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Indiana’s prosecutors are largely in support of keeping the state’s death penalty statute as it reads today.
According to the Indiana Department of Corrections, Indiana has carried out 94 executions since 1897, the most recent occurring in 2009. There are currently 13 inmates on Indiana’s death row, but no executions are schedule.
Indiana lawmakers heard testimony on the death penalty during a legislative study committee hearing at the Statehouse on Wednesday.
Boone County, Indiana prosecutor Todd Meyer said that the mental health of a defendant is in the forefront of Indiana’s death penalty process and that the current law is sufficient.
Meyer told lawmakers that the system works as it was intended: the death penalty is used sparingly and only for the worst of the worst offenders.
“Our capital litigation statute contains mitigators that protect someone from being executed who has a mental illness,” said Meyer.
Mayer asserted that every death penalty case in Indiana involves a rigorous determination of the mental health of the defendant. He added that changes to the death penalty statute could also affect Indiana’s life without parole statute.
State Rep. Ed Delaney (D-Indianapolis) said Indiana should abolish the death penalty because it is too expensive.
Last week, the Indiana Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that could determine how executions are performed. The state currently utilizes lethal injection to kill death row inmates, but convicted murderer Roy Ward is challenging the process. His attorney says the drug cocktail is chosen by prison officials, not lawmakers, which leaves the public out of the process of choosing the drug.