Less than a week after a teenager was charged in the brutal killing of a 25-year-old woman, the Wisconsin Senate passed a resolution to ask voters to weigh in on whether Wisconsin should have the death penalty, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The Senate approved the resolution on a 20-13 vote. If passed by both houses, a non-binding, advisory referendum question would go to voters in September. Wisconsin hasn’t had capital punishment since 1853. Sen. Jeff Plale said legislators should resist the impulse to seek justice through the death penalty.
Democrats pointed out that innocent people have been executed in other states. Sen. Robert Jauch said murderers are not rational people who take into consideration whether a state has the death penalty before they choose to kill. Sen. Carol Roessler favors a referendum because advances in technology have improved law enforcement efforts and because defendants have a lengthy appeal process before executions are carried out. “I believe there needs to be an end of the line for individuals who have committed vicious, violent, first-degree intentional homicides,” she said.