Senate Committee Looks at Death Penalty Bills

This week the Senate’s Progress and Development Committee heard several bills that would end or change how the death penalty is carried out in our state.

Senator Gina Walsh (D-St. Louis) is the sponsor of SB 775, which would end the death penalty in Missouri.  In testifying Senator Walsh told the committee that the death penalty is a “polarizing political issue,” but since she had a close friend who was murdered she knows the ramifications of the issue and why she supports ending the death penalty.

Senator Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) is the sponsor of SB 804, which would put more controls on the execution process by still allowing the Department of Corrections to write the rules, but prevent procedures such as paying cash for the drug and hiding the pharmacy company as part of the execution team, whereby the identity could be concealed.   He called some of the current practices of the DOC “shenanigans.”

Senator Jolie Justus (D-Kansas City) is the sponsor of SB 787, which would put the rule making authority for execution procedures under a “Capital Sentencing Procedure and Protocols Commission” that would include stakeholders in the process such as judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers and crime victims. The bill would enact a one-year moratorium on executions for which the procedures were developed.

Numerous witnesses, including the MCC, testified in support of all these bills.  The MCC reminded the committee that many faith traditions, including the Catholic Church, oppose executions because it disregards the sanctity and dignity of human life. Other witnesses reported that the death penalty is costly, arbitrary, and prone to mistakes.

The committee plans to review the bills and possibly combine some for further debate in the Senate.

 

Posted: March 14, 2014

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