The Senate General Laws and Pensions Committee heard a bill on Tuesday, Jan. 19 that would end the death penalty in Missouri.
Sponsored by Sen. Paul Wieland (R-Imperial) SB 816 would make life without parole the only sentencing option for first degree murder. Inmates currently living under a death sentence would have their sentences changed to life without parole.
In introducing his bill to the committee, Sen. Wieland said that he was motivated to sponsor the bill because of his pro-life beliefs. “For me to be consistent with my pro-life beliefs, I need to not only protect the innocent unborn, but also those guilty of serious crime,” Wieland noted.
Several witnesses testified, including MCC’s General Counsel Tyler McClay.
“Catholic teaching opposes the use of the death penalty,” McClay noted. “This ultimate punishment promotes violence as a solution to society’s problems.”
McClay went on to discuss some of the concerns found in the 18 cases of individuals who have been executed in Missouri over the last few years. These concerns include arbitrariness of the death penalty, racial disparity in cases and lack of adequate representation at trial.
The hearing will continue on Tuesday at 3 p.m.