* Senate Bill 277 – Sponsored by Sen. Wieland Under current law, the punishment for first degree murder is either life imprisonment without eligibility for parole or death. This act repeals the punishment of the death penalty for first degree murder. In addition, this act provides that any person sentenced to death before August 28, 2017, shall be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. This act is substantially similar to SB 816 (2016) and SB 447 (2015) and is similar to HB 772 (2015), SB 775 (2014), SB 247 (2013), and HB 1250 (2012).
* House Bill 135 – Sponsored by Representative T.J. Berry Repeals the provisions that allow the use of the death penalty in Missouri.
* House Bill 1029 – Sponsored by Representative Sarah Unsicker Abolishes the death penalty and specifies that any person sentenced to death before August 28, 2017, must be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
* House Bill 697 – Sponsored by Representative Curtis Trent Changes the laws regarding the AMBER Alert System and establishes Hailey’s Law. Hailey’s Law, would integrate Missouri’s AMBER Alert system with the Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement System and the Regional Justice Information Service. It would give officers statewide the ability to issue an AMBER Alert digitally, speeding up that process. The law is named for Hailey Owens, a 10-year-old girl from Springfield who was abducted and murdered in February 2014. Police were on the scene within minutes of her abduction, but it took more than two hours for the AMBER Alert to be issued.
Note: On 2/14/17, Representative T.J. Berry offered an amendment to House Bill 57: to abolish capital punishment and replace it with life without the possibility of parole. A number of representatives stood up to voice their concerns with the death penalty, including its significant cost and the existence of innocent and exonerated men from Missouri’s death row. Representatives also highlighted that some victims prefer to avoid the trauma of a lengthy trial, constitutionally required appeals, and over 15 years of process. Two courageous murder victim family members, Jeff and Stacey Barfield came in person to call attention to their desire for a speedy resolution of the case involving the murder of their daughter Hailey Owens. The tragedy is approaching its third-year anniversary and the family has joined with Jim and Regina Wood, parents of suspected perpetrator Craig Wood, to support an expedited Amber Alert System.
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You may also watch the Missouri House debate HB 57 here.