Iowa legislators offer bill to revive the death penalty for cop killers

DES MOINES — A bill advancing in the Iowa Senate would reinstate the death penalty, more than 60 years after the state’s last execution. The bill would allow lethal injection in cases of first-degree murder where a police officer is killed.

Republican Senator Dave Rowley of Spirit Lake told a Senate subcommittee on Monday he believes it should be an option in cases such as Algona Police Officer Kevin Cram, who was killed on duty last September. “Those are the voices that bring up a bill like this,” Rowley says, “to appeal to the state to at least defend these people who are hired to protect and serve us.”

The bill was opposed by religious advocates who said the state should not return to a policy of taking another life in response to murder. GOP lawmakers who favored the bill in the subcommittee said lethal injection should be available to provide closure to the families of fallen officers.

Senator Tony Bisignano, a Democrat from Des Moines, said he’s bothered that the bill could apply the death penalty in the Algona case, but not in the mass shooting at Perry High School, had the gunman survived. “It wouldn’t apply under this bill,” Bisignano says. “Now, I don’t support the death penalty because of issues like that. You never get to what you want because revenge does not reward you.”

The proposal advanced to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Iowa has not used the death penalty since 1963 and it was abolished in 1965.

Last year, Republican legislators tried to make the death penalty an option for someone convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing a child — but it never made it to the floor for debate.