MADP is dedicated to working with legislators across the state in our efforts to Abolish the death penalty. Through community empowerment we believe we can facilitate progress to educate our representatives by connecting them to those most impacted by the death penalty. As we strive to ensure the constitutional rights of those facing death sentences, we work year round within multi-partisan coalitions striving toward a more equitable and just criminal legal system.
Legislators and advocates from all sides of the political spectrum agree that the death penalty is a bloated government system that fails to address root causes of violence.
The lengthy appeals process costs taxpayers millions of dollars per year.
Since 1973, more than 180 people who had been wrongly convicted and sentenced to death in the U.S. have been exonerated. For every eight people executed in the U.S., one person on death row has been exonerated.
Capital punishment prolongs pain for victims families, dragging them through agonizing processes that holds out the promise that executions will provide healing.
Lethal injection drugs have proven to be cruel and unusual, and are procured through back door deals
The death penalty does not work as a deterrent to crime and often causes false confessions. States that practice executions have the highest homicide rates.
Pre-filing in Missouri started on December 1 2021, and bills have already been filed that would take positives steps towards ending the death penalty system. Missourians for Alternatives to the death penalty will be following these bills in 2022.
HB 1746 -- Rep. Shamed Dogan (R)
SB 825 -- Sen. Bill White (R)
These bills remove death as an option for the court to declare as punishment in cases where the jury cannot decide or agree upon the punishment. Missouri is one of a few states that allow a judge to assign the death penalty when a jury deadlocks in the sentencing phase of a capital case. No Missouri jury has unanimously recommended a death sentence since 2013. The last three people sentenced to death in Missouri were sentenced by judges. In 2020, Ramos v. Louisiana held that the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial requires a unanimous verdict to convict a defendant of a serious offense. In 2022, MADP continues to prioritize bills that eliminate non-unanimous jury sentencing in death penalty cases. Support.
HB 612 -- Rep. Tony Lovasco (R)
HB 2028 -- Rep. Sara Unsicker (D)
These bills repeal the death penalty in Missouri leaving life without parole as the harshest possible sentence for first-degree murder. In 2022, MADP is working to engage new stakeholders in our mission and highlight the death penalty system as a costly and inefficent bureaucratic program with no measurable outcomes. MADP supports legislation to move forward death penalty repeal and encourage reinvestment in real public safety programs with proven outcomes. Support.
HB 2523 -- Rep. Nick Schroer (R)
The Informant Reliability Act will enhance transparency and accuracy in the criminal justice system by regulating the use of informant testimony. According to a study in 2004, 49.5% of wrongful convictions in capital cases are the results of false testimony given by criminal informants. This legislative reform will have widespread effect for innocent people presently incarcerated due to “jailhouse snitches,” as well as those who could face wrongful conviction in the future. Support.
Non-unanimous Jury Sentencing - Non-unanimous Jury Sentencing is the unconstitutional practice when judges override a deadlocked jury to impose death sentences. Only two states allow for this - Missouri and Indiana. No Missouri jury has imposed a death sentence since 2013. The last two death sentences (2017 and 2018) have been judge imposed, and three men are currently living under death sentences imposed by judges, not juries of their peers. Eliminating judicial override could stop new death sentences in Missouri.
Costs of the Death Penalty - We know that Missouri’s capital punishment is arbitrarily applied, more often in counties that can afford it. The fiscal impact of the death penalty in Missouri has never been studied. We expect this conversation to ramp up in 2022 as legislation was filed in 2021 to create a fund to reimburse counties who sequester jurors from other counties for capital cases. Because Missouri has never done a complete cost study, MADP is working with interested legislators to bring attention to the hidden costs of capital punishment.
Full Repeal - Missouri is one of several states that focuses on abolishing the death penalty by attrition. States like Colorado, which achieved full legislative repeal in 2020, have very few people living under a death sentence. Colorado Governor Jared Polis acknowledged that “the death penalty cannot be, and never has been, administered equitably in the State of Colorado.”
With support from multiple coalitions as well as a diverse set of advocates working together on these issues, the possibilities of abolishing the death penalty in Missouri is growing.