Executions, death sentences down nationwide; Madison County District Attorney

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – There are currently 177 inmates on death row, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections. This is a number that’s continued decreasing nationwide since 2000.

“I really question if we as a society, and just your run of the mill person, has the stomach to do what needs doing, even though it may not be pleasant,” Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard said.

Broussard and his team of prosecutors represent crime victims’ families. Broussard said even in the best case scenario, the proceedings are so grim and serious that no one comes out whole on the other side, even the victim’s family.

“Somebody asked me one time, what is it that y’all do exactly,” Broussard said. “And I thought about it, and the short answer is, we deal in human misery on all sides.”

Broussard’s job literally deals with life and death. He prosecutes cases that sometimes ask a jury to make a decision on capital punishment.

“Are we going to forfeit a fellow human being’s life,” Broussard said of the decision placed on the jury. “One of the main things I say to the family almost immediately is, listen to me, if everything goes the way we think it should go, and hope it goes, we all know y’all are still going to walk out of this courthouse with a hole in your heart.”

In Alabama, a capital murder case does not automatically become a death penalty case. But, in order for a case to be ‘capital,’ it must be pursuant to Alabama Code Title 13A. Criminal Code ยง 13A-5-40. It means a person had to kill another person during another crime like burglary, robbery, kidnapping and rape.

During the sentencing, if the jurors select life without the possibility of parole, a judge cannot choose death. In 2017, Governor Ivey’s signature made it law in Alabama that a judge cannot override a jury’s sentencing recommendation in death penalty cases.

Previously, Alabama had been the only state that allowed a judge to decide to sentence a person to death when a jury recommended life in prison.

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