The Baton Rouge Advocate reports, "Some want to speed executions," by Michelle Millhollon.
Frustrated with the yawning distance between the pronouncement of a death-penalty sentence and the actual execution, state Rep. Kenny Havard wants to accelerate the process.
“We have inmates on death row for 20 to 30 years,” Havard complained. At issue is whether his proposed solution would speed anything at all.
Havard, R-St. Francisville, filed House Bill 71 to eliminate an exemption that gives death-row inmates extra time to file their post-conviction appeals. Under the bill, inmates would have to file their state court applications for post-conviction relief within two years of their sentence becoming final. The idea is to accelerate the appeals process.
The bill will be debated in the legislative session that starts next month.
“My view is any effort to tinker with post-conviction will prolong every case by 10 years while we litigate the new rule. The people on death row will applaud any effort to impose unconstitutional time limits,” Baton Rouge criminal defense attorney Jim Boren said.
Dale Lee, a prosecutor who handles appeals for the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office, pointed to another problem with Havard’s proposal. Because of a deadline on federal habeas corpus writs, death-row inmates are pretty speedy in filing with state courts for post-conviction relief. Havard could be trying to fix a problem that doesn’t even exist, he said.