Missouri’s existing statue sets the punishment for first-degree murder at either death or life imprisonment without parole. However, two U.S. Supreme court rulings on juveniles below the age of 18 have outlawed the death penalty and mandatory life without parole sentences for young offenders. This leaves Missouri in a quagmire with no enforceable sentence for juveniles who commit this crime.
The MCC testified before the Judiciary committee in support of SB 280 and in opposition to SB 200. The MCC maintained that SB 280 is a better policy for young offenders, as it takes into account the brain development of youth and their potential for rehabilitation. Speaking against SB 200, the MCC stressed that because offenders in prison don’t tend to live as long as people in the general population, the legislation would be a de facto death sentence for most young offenders, which would violate the intent of the Supreme Court rulings.
At this time, the committee has taken no further action on either proposal.