BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A Thursday debate on public defender funding had one lawmaker questioning the cost of Louisiana's  death penalty.

Winnsboro Rep. Steve Pylant, a Republican, says he's not sure it justifies the $10 million that capital defense services receive annually.

He spoke during discussion about a proposal to reconfigure the state Public Defender Board and specifically allocate 65 percent of its annual budget to local public defenders. The House criminal justice committee voted 10-2 to send the proposal to the House for debate.

Supporters of the redesign call the capital program too costly. Opponents say the mandated percentage would take away from important work instead of fixing Louisiana's  underfunded criminal defense system.

Albany Rep. Sherman Mack, a Republican, calls his bill "a work in progress."

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House Bill 818: www.legis.la.gov

 

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