PHOENIX (AP) - An Arizona bill approved by the House could make human smugglers convicted of murder eligible for the death penalty.
The House approved House Bill 2313 by a 35-24 vote Tuesday.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Justin Pierce, R-Mesa, adds to the list of aggravating circumstances whether it is probable that a defendant would commit another crime. It also designates smuggling as a serious offense.
That would make human smugglers who are convicted of murder eligible for the death penalty.
Democrats opposed to the bill say that it is unfair to judge people based on what they may potentially do in the future.
"I don't know what that probability is. I think you're innocent until you're proven guilty and we're arguing with this bill that based on some probability which is unknown, somebody who is going to commit crimes in the future, we're going to sentence them to the death penalty. That doesn't seem fair," said Rep. Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley."
The bill was proposed by Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles. Pinal County is a major route for human and drug smugglers.
"It is time the state of Arizona recognizes the seriousness of these crimes," Voyles said. "We must recognize smuggling as a serious offense and smugglers must be held accountable for their actions."
The bill will now go to the Senate.
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