Bill could reinstate Iowa death penalty

A gurney used for administering drugs in death penalty cases.

A State bill that is getting some new attention aims to reinstate Iowa’s death penalty but only for people convicted of kidnapping, rape and first degree murder combined.

Senate File 335 was introduced by Senator Jerry Behn (R) District 24.

Now two groups are working to spread the word about what reinstating the punishment would mean for the state.

Living Beyond the Bars and the Iowa Justice Action Network met with people at Kenwood Park United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids January 15th to discuss the cost, procedures and the history of the death penalty.

People also heard from a family who has been impacted by the death penalty.

Group leaders say their goal is to be impartial but they also want people to know it is a sentence that can’t be taken back.

Sue Hutchins, Founder of Living Beyond the Bars, and Co-Chair of Iowa Justice Action Network says using the death penalty is more expensive and raises major ethical questions.

“The financial concerns, the possibility of innocence found later, there are a lot of things to really think through.”

One of the sponsoring Senators, Senator Jake Chapman (R), says the bill serves to find justice for the most heinous criminals.

He says many opponents point to cases where DNA has proved people innocent after execution, but this would be a measure to use conservatively.

"We certainly do not want any innocent person being put to death but on the same token, through that same technology that has proven people to be innocent, it has also proven people to be guilty," says Chapman.

Senate File 335 is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Chapman says only time will tell if the bill has the support to become law but it is a conversation worth having.

The Iowa Justice Action Network and Living Beyond Bars says they hope to take their conversation all across the state to provide information no matter what side of the issue people find themselves on.

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