Updated: Dec 28, 2020
The Status of the Death Penalty in Missouri
Number of executions since 1976: 89
Last execution: Russell Bucklew, October 1, 2019
Number of death row inmates: 22
Number of innocent people freed from death row: 4
Nationally, the use of the death penalty remained near historic lows in 2019, according to the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC). 2019 marked the fourth consecutive year with fewer than 30 executions and 50 death sentences, reflecting a long-term decline of capital punishment across the United States.
In 2019, Missouri had no new death sentences. There were 23 pending capital cases in 2019 and four of them ended with life without parole (LWOP) sentences. Five of the pending cases stem from St. Louis City.
On October 1st Missouri carried out the execution of Russell Bucklew despite concerns about the violation of his human rights and the 8th Amendment of the Constitution. Russell “Rusty” Bucklew was sentenced to death in 1997 for the death of Michael Sanders. This was Bucklew’s third execution setting. His previous execution dates in 2014 and 2018 were stayed by the United States Supreme Court because of his rare health condition that could cause him great pain during the execution process. Russell faced a heightened risk of a botched execution due to a medical condition and Missouri’s shady source of drugs. This is the first execution in Missouri since December 2017.
For more information on the death penalty data in Missouri, see MADP’s 2019 Annual Report.