This week the House Corrections Committee heard testimony from numerous groups and individuals on why Missouri should repeal its death penalty statute. Sponsored by Rep. Mike McGhee (R-Odessa), HB 1520 would end the death penalty in Missouri and replace capital sentences with life without the possibility of parole.
Among the witnesses testifying for HB 1520 was Ginger Masters of Columbia whose husband was murdered seven years ago. She told the committee that an execution would not bring closure to her pain and knew other murder victim family members who shared her belief. Paula Skillicorn, whose husband Dennis was executed in 2009, told the committee of the emotional toll the execution put on corrections workers and families of the condemned. Other witnesses highlighted problems with the death penalty including its cost, risk of mistakes and disparity of use.
In testifying in support of HB 1520 the Missouri Catholic Conference reminded the committee of the Catholic Church’s long opposition to the use of the death penalty because it disregards the dignity of human life and continues a cycle of violence.
The committee took no action on HB 1520 which was co-sponsored by 44 other representatives.