Death penalty debate ends, for now, in the South Dakota legislat - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Death penalty debate ends, for now, in the South Dakota legislature


A South Dakota panel has shot down a measure to end the death penalty in the Rushmore State.

Relatives of two murder victims urged that the death penalty be kept, while the father of another victim said it should be repealed.

The measure would have banned the death penalty in future criminal cases, but would leave in place the death sentences of convicted murderers currently on their death row.

The bill was an effort by Vermillion resident Denny Davis who found a sponsor in House Republican Steve Hickey of Sioux Falls.

Not everyone in his party agreed.

"I quite frankly think that the punishment they're getting is equivalent to the crime that they commit,” said Rep. Mike Stevens (R) of Yankton.

"I don't think anybody's for death. I believe that it's a part of our justice system, and it's not really a retaliation,” said Rep. Nancy Rasmussen (R) of Hurley.

Still, there are several Siouxland lawmakers who were pushing for a change in the law.

Though they admitted they faced an uphill battle, they were hoping to at least get the bill out of committee and onto the floor for a vote.

"Morally, I don't think government should do things that we tell other private citizens that they shouldn't do. Killing's at the top of the list. Monetarily, I just think it's poor public policy,” said House Minority Leader Bernie Hunhoff.

"I think there are ways of protecting the public from some of these people without actually taking their lives,” said Rep. Ray Ring (D) Vermillion.

The House State Affairs Committee rejected the bill in a seven to six vote.

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