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February 8th marked an historic occasion in the Missouri Senate–it was the first time a floor debate took place to consider a death penalty repeal bill since 1974.  A devout Catholic and consistent supporter of life, Senator Paul Wieland offered S. 816 for approval to the full Missouri Senate.  Wieland indicated that as a fiscal conservative, he did not see that the death penalty makes effective use of taxpayer dollars.  Further, it fails to deter crime and has not been applied equitably.

Other Senators echoed his concerns.  No other state program would be permitted to hand over sacks full of cash, without oversight.  The theme presented by the cosponsors highlighted Missouri’s failure to implement the death penalty in a fair and impartial manner, deep concerns over racial and geographic disparities, and fundamental flaws that lead to the conviction of innocent individuals.  Prosecutorial misconduct, inadequate legal representation and cases such as those examined in Netflix’s presentation of Stephen Avery, were discussed in detail. The exoneration of individuals such as Clarence Dexter, Eric Clemmons, Joseph Armine, and Reggie Griffin, previously held on Missouri’s death row, demonstrated deeply troubling failures in Missouri’s capital punishment system.

Senator Wieland emphasized that it was time the Senate took up the death penalty in an earnest conversation.   having the full debate represented an important step in that direction, and Wieland vowed that next year would bring the question even further to the fore.  He then laid it over to the informal calendar.

Future debates should well address the question raised by Equal Justice’s Bryan Stevenson, “The question of the death penalty is not, “Do people deserve to die for the crimes they commit?”   Instead, “I think the threshold question is, ‘Do we deserve to kill?'”

February 9, 2016

Full Senate Considers Death Penalty Repeal

February 8th marked an historic occasion in the Missouri Senate–it was the first time a floor debate took place to consider a death penalty repeal bill […]
January 27, 2016

Senate Hearing Update – Death Penalty in Missouri Losing Ground

More and more bipartisan support for the death penalty in Missouri as Republicans are quickly agreeing that the death penalty is not applied fairly, goes against […]
January 22, 2016
End the Death Penalty

SB 816 Hearing to Abolish the Death Penalty in Missouri Extended Until Tuesday, January 26

The senate hearing on repealing the death penalty continues next week because of larger than expected turnout on the 19th. There is still time to make […]
January 20, 2016

Missouri Conservatives Concerned Representative Asher Allman on KCUR

Missouri Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty is a network of social and fiscal conservatives who question the alignment of capital punishment with conservative principles and values. […]