DES MOINES – Republicans passed numerous reforms this legislative session in Iowa, but were unable to revive the death penalty.
Senate File 335 was introduced by Republican lawmakers Behn, Zaun, Chapman, Garrett, Children, and Guth. They introduced the bill for an act creating the penalty of death for the commission of the Multiple offense of murder in the first degree, kidnapping, and sexual abuse against the same minor, providing penalties, and including effective date and applicability provisions.
The Iowa ACLU applauded the fact that the bill never was passed, saying that “during one of the most regressive legislative sessions in memory, it is important to count the victories — even when the victories are simply preventing Iowa from going back a half century.”
Iowa had a death penalty until 1968. The ACLU claimed “Capital punishment was brutal, expensive, and did nothing to prevent violent tragedies. There is also a great risk of sentencing innocent people to death. Since 1973, 140 people on death row have been exonerated in the U.S. Those most likely to be wrongly convicted tended to be disproportionately people of color, low-income, or with a mental disability.”
Iowa lawmakers considered the extreme punishment after the brutal abduction and rape of young Jetseta Gage by Roger Bentley back in 2005. His brother, his James Bentley, had sexually abused Jetseta. Both are serving long prison sentences at this time.