Claitor was supported by a minority of senators across party lines.
Sen. JP Morrell (D-New Orleans) spoke during the committee debate about the high percentage of exonerations of death row inmates which suggested the potential for mistaken executions.
"It's indisputable that we had people on death row who were [then] found innocent," Morrell said in support of Claitor's bill.
State representative Terry Landry (D-New Iberia) has proposed a similar measure in the House. A former superintendent of the Louisiana State Police and a former supported of capital punishment, he said that his beliefs had evolved and that he “now believe[s] the death penalty is wrong."
The measure was supported by the Catholic bishops of the state. Speaking on behalf of the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops, executive director Rob Tasman said that "justice can never be wrought by killing a human being."
Pope Francis has called the death penalty a rejection of the Gospel and of human dignity, calling on civil authorities to end its use. Last year, he ordered a revision of paragraph 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to describe the death penalty “inadmissible” and urging its elimination.
Opponents of the measure said that Claitor’s argument about deterrence was irrelevant.
"Nowhere does [the law] say we shall 'deter,' said Sen. Bodi White (R-Baton Rouge). "It says 'shall be punished' and that's what this does."
District Attorney Scott Perrilloux of the 21st district told News Star that deterrence was not a relevant factor in cases where he sought the death penalty.
"What we consider is the victims and what victims consider as justice" he said.
The last execution to take place in Louisiana was in 2010.
Although there are currently 72 inmates on death row in the state, Gov. John Bel Edwards has imposed a moratorium on any further executions until July of this year because of the unavailability of the drugs used in lethal injections.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.