RELIGIOUS VIEWS: "Diminishing All of Us: The Death Penalty In Louisiana"

A recent study published by the Jesuit Social Research Institute of Loyola University pointed to numerous problems with Louisiana’s death penalty. In particular, the study found:
- Per capita, Louisiana has one of the highest wrongful-conviction rates in the country. More people have been exonerated in Louisiana in the last ten years than executed.
- Within Louisiana’s most aggressive death penalty districts, white victims are disproportionately targeted for the death penalty by district attorneys.
- The death penalty is applied in only 1% of murder cases; of the other 99% of cases, many go unsolved.
- The death penalty in Louisiana has not been reserved for “the worst of the worst” defendants. Louisiana’s death row is overrepresented by individuals with childhood trauma, intellectual disabilities, and mental illnesses.
- Reforms are needed to better assist families of murder victims, including allocating more resources to address unsolved murders and improving access to counseling and mental health services.

The study also reviewed Catholic social teaching on capital punishment. Read a short summary of the report here.

The study concluded, “As a contemporary criminal justice policy, the death penalty in Louisiana is a costly and ineffective commitment to retribution, taking away scarce resources needed for prevention, healing and redemption. Exoneration rates and the disproportionate prosecutions of cases involving white victims belie any claim that the administration of the capital punishment system in Louisiana is rational or fair.” The study was commissioned by Louisiana Catholics Committed to Repeal of the Death Penalty.

(A. Mikulich & S. Cull, “Diminishing All of Us: The Death Penalty in Louisiana,” Jesuit Social Research Institute, March 2012). Read more studies on the death penalty. See also Religious Views.