Indiana lawmaker proposes bill to end death penalty
Indiana lawmaker proposes bill to end death penalty

[JURIST] Indiana state senator Lonnie Randolph [official profile] introduced Senate Bill 136 [text] to end the death penalty in the state. The proposed legislation would repeal the state’s death penalty statute and reduce the punishments of those awaiting execution to life imprisonment without parole. The bill provides that, “when a defendant is charged with a murder for which the state seeks a sentence of life imprisonment without parole, the defendant may file a petition alleging that the defendant is an individual with mental retardation.” In instances where an individual is in fact deemed to be mentally ill, the proposed law would prohibit sentencing of a convicted murder to life imprisonment without parole.

Use of the death penalty [JURIST backgrounder] has been a controversial issue throughout the US and internationally. In May the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] urged the US to impose a moratorium on the use of the death penalty following a botched execution [JURIST reports] performed in Oklahoma the previous week. In April the Supreme Court of Oklahoma [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that inmates’ constitutional rights were not violated by keeping the sources of lethal injection drugs secret. Earlier that month a judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Missouri [official website] allowed the continuation [JURIST report] of a lawsuit challenging a bill that would conceal the identities of individuals involved in the administration of the death penalty. A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma [official website] issued a temporary restraining order [JURIST report] in February, enjoining a pharmacy from providing a lethal injection drug to the Missouri Department of Corrections [official website].