Terrorism Law's Author Introduced Measure Previously

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Although Mississippi leaders hope the addition of terrorism will never need to be used, they at least want it in place as a crime punishable by death.

"If we do reach the death penalty phase in a case like this, a jury should be allowed to consider whether or not it was an act of terrorism as an aggravated offense," said Sen. Chris McDaniel of Ellisville.

McDaniel authored the bill. He says with recent bombings in Boston and other terrorist threats the state simply needs to have the law in place.

"We have to take a proactive role in combating terrorism," McDaniel said. "This gives our prosecutors and our justice system another tool to do just that."

As with any death penalty case, a victim must die as a result of a felony before the crime can warrant death. With this law, terrorism is now one of those felonies, like rape or armed robbery.

McDaniel says adding it to the list puts the state in line with federal law.

"We have state authority and we have federal authority and there's nothing that prohibits one of the two from bringing a prosecution in this area," McDaniel said. "We thought it was important that when the state did, if they chose to do so and seek the death penalty, we thought it was important to trace or track the federal law in that regard so there's no confusion."

The bill passed the legislature overwhelming and was recently signed into law by Gov. Phil Bryant.

McDaniel has submitted this exact bill for several years now. The law will take effect July 1.