Why Circuit-Riding LA Prosecutor Backs Death Penalty

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When he’s not seeking the death penalty for yet another accused killer or lobbying the Louisiana legislature to keep the practice of execution alive, Hugo Holland finds refuge in a man-cave in Shreveport, The Advocate reports. Hefty file folders clutter the floor, the work product of a prolific freelancer who handles some of the most high-stakes prosecutions in the state. Many involve capital punishment, a specialty Holland honed before a scandal forced him to resign from the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office. In the five years since then, “circuit riding” has made Holland one of the most influential and best-paid prosecutors in the state.

Holland is best known for his expertise in capital cases, having sent 10 people to Louisiana’s death row — a “macabre” statistic he swears he isn’t tracking. Half of those death sentences have been overturned, and none has been carried out. “If a stray kitten was hit in the street, I’d pick it up and take it to the vet, pay the bill and then try to adopt it out,” Holland says. “But it would not faze me in the least to watch a man executed, and that would include hanging or firing squad. I’ve seen enough videos. I’ve seen people killed violently.” Holland has emerged as an outspoken champion of the death penalty at a time when capital punishment remains on life support in Louisiana, hobbled by a dearth of lethal injection drugs. The Caddo Parish DA’s Office pays him thousands of dollars a year to lobby legislators in Baton Rouge, where he’s shined a harsh light on funding for defense lawyers in capital cases. Last month, he helped defeat a bill that would have abolished the death penalty in Louisiana for murder cases. Holland, 53, agrees that the death penalty has failed to deter murderers, but he says it offers an avenue for state-sanctioned retribution, so victims don’t have to exact it themselves.

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