Death penalty bill clears first test in Iowa Senate

DES MOINES — A senate subcommittee has advanced a bill to reinstate the death penalty in Iowa for people convicted of murdering a peace officer or for those found guilty of the “multiple offenses” of kidnapping, rape and murder.

“Life is so sacred, God says that if you take someone else’s then your own is required,” Brad Cranston, pastor of the Heritage Baptist Church in Burlington and founder of Iowa Baptists for Biblical Values, said during a statehouse hearing on the bill.

Patti Brown of Iowans Against the Death Penalty warned lawmakers who back an abortion ban of the “hypocrisy” of supporting executions, too.

“As we seek to protect the heartbeats of the unborn, do not mock God by also asking him for the right to kill,” Brown said.

Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker testified for the death penalty as an option for cop killers. Danker cited a specific case — the shooting of his deputy last May by a man who’d killed before and who has “no regard for life at all,” according to the sheriff.

“He is going to be incarcerated probably for the rest of his life. I just hate to see him injure or kill somebody else whether it’s one of our correctional officers in the detention facility another prisoner in jail,” Danker said.

Reverend Gary Nims, a lobbyist for the United Methodist Church, told lawmakers the state should not “play God” by putting people to death.

“There is no room in a civilized society…in a country that largely prides itself so much on its Christian heritage to have the practice of the death penalty,” Nims said.

Three Republicans on the Senate subcommittee endorsed the bill on “capital murder” and the legislation is now ready for a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill must pass that committee, though, by the end of this week to remain eligible for consideration by lawmakers in the Senate and the House this year.

A bill that would have reinstated capital punishment as an option in all first degree murder convictions stalled in the Iowa House earlier this month.

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