|Mid-Missouri Fellowship of
The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) is a group composed of people from many faiths, and no particular faith --
all coming together to support nonviolence and justice.
Offering people of conscience an action response to a morally-impaired U.S. foreign policy.
A Report on the Injustice in the Application of the Death Penalty in Missouri (1978-1996)(Microsoft Word document)
Iraq Crisis Issue Guide by Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies
Common Dreams News Center
April 12, 2003
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U.S. steps up secret surveillance
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Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty Legislative Alert
Request Your Senator Oppose Two Bills Already Passed by the House:
We 'd rather be encouraging citizens to support progressive legislation, but with the reality of 2007 legislature, we're compelled to ask you to help block passage of two regressive death-penalty measures. If your senator is on the Judiciary Committee (Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia is) please contact him or her as soon as you can; urge your Senator to vote “Do Not Pass” either bill-- see list below of committee members and contact info.
**Both bills are in the Senate Judiciary (Criminal and Civil Jurisprudence) Committee, which convenes Monday, 23 April for their weekly hearing @ 6 pm in the Senate Lounge, on the 3rd floor of the Captiol in
HCS for HB 820 would grant anonymity to execution team members, close the execution protocol to public and judicial oversight, and create a misdemeanor offense should someone divulge the identity of a “team” member, potentially punishing investigative reporters doing important work in our democractic society. Urge Sen. Graham or your senator, if on the Judiciary Committee to vote “Do Not Pass” (House Committee Substitute for House Bill) HCS for HB 820 during the committee's “executive session, immediately after the 23 April public hearing. Should a majority of members vote favorably, HCS for HB 820 would be moved forward for debate on the Senate floor and possible passage.
HB 945 would dictate capital punishment for the murder of a “criminal justice official” unless jurors can be convinced “mitigating” factors outweigh the crime’s severity.
Urge your senator, whether on the committee or not to vote against both HCS for HB 820 and HB 945 should either or both reaches the Senate floor. To find out who is your state senator, log onto http://www.senate.mo.gov and go to “Legislator Look up.”
For more details on the bills scroll further down.
A list of committee members (contact only your senator if on Judiciary):
Sen. Chuck Graham (Boone and
Sen. Matt Bartle (R-Lee’s
Sen. Jack Goodman (R-Mt. Vernon, vice-chair), 573-751-2234, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Sen. Chuck Graham (contact info above);
Sen. Jolie Justus (D-KC), 573-751-2788, email@example.com ;
Sen. Chris Koster (R-Harrisonville), 573-751-1430, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Sen. John Loudon (R-Chesterfield), 573-751-9763, email@example.com;
Sen. Rob Mayer (R-Dexter), 573-751-3859, firstname.lastname@example.org ;
Sen. Jeff Smith (D-St. Louis), 573-751-3599, email@example.com
Urge your Senator to Oppose HCS for HB 820
--Granting anonymity to execution team members and closing the protocol to public record
Here are some reasons senators should vote against HCS for HB 820.......
HB 820 would mask a theoretically public policy in a veil of secrecy-- a development contrary to democratic principles and accountability.
The bill would require the identities of the Department of Corrections execution team be kept confidential and not subject to discovery, subpoena, or other means of legal compulsion. Furthermore, any execution protocol of the Department of Corrections is to remain a closed record, except for the provision that directly relates to the administration of lethal gas or chemicals. As written this bill could prevent even judicial or governmental review of the execution process.
Without such oversight Missourians won’t have access to information regarding whether the execution team members are properly trained and can carry out the state killings in a competent manner.
Capital punishment is an institution at least theoretically of public policy. Adding this layer of administrative secrecy however, seems to at least imply, appropriately we would say, that there is a stigma of shame in being a member of the state-killing “team.”
HB 820 could have a chilling effect, criminalizing investigative journalism.
A federal judge ordered a stay in the execution of Michael Taylor after testimony from the
Such information is worthwhile for the general public to know as state officials have purported (somewhat inaccurately we have learned) that team members executed all the men in a humane, professional manner. The Post-Dispatch report informing the public of problems with the execution protocol in
Reporters have not and would not be so inclined to report the names of any unwilling officials participating in executions unless they exercised incompetence or additional unethical behavior during the life-ending procedure. The identity of no other execution team-member has been made publicly through the media, to the best of our knowledge. As HCS for HB 820 is written, a DOC worker who's perhaps troubled by inappropriate actions taken by a fellow execution-team member, and acting as a whistle blower by notifying media outlets, could also be singled out for prosecution. Such public reports could only be made with the permission of the DOC director, the bill states. Public transparency, we believe, ultimately helps to guarantee a heightened level of competency and professional conduct.
The issue of safety for DOC workers is being used inappropriately as a rationale to make more secretive the public policy of state killings.
Supporters and opponents of the death penalty alike genuinely care about the safety of DOC workers. Theirs is a very difficult and all too-often thankless job. Corrections officers oversee many people who have committed truly heinous crimes. It is no doubt particularly burdensome, emotionally for those working as a member of DOC’s execution teams. The issue of DOC worker safety seems to be something of a cloak to make the process more clandestine, as officials seem frustrated lethal injections have been halted by federal courts and as it's become more difficult to locate physicians willing to assist since the doctor's name was reported.
There have have been no specific reports of any DOC officials being attacked or threatened as a result of an impending execution or following a state killing. Bill sponsors and other officials have raised the hypothetical specter of gang members attacking officials team members to exact revenge for the execution of a peer. Perhaps at greater risk though, are prosecutors, judges and jurors who take part in the conviction and death sentencing of individuals in
We with Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty, as our name states, oppose all executions-- whether conducted publicly or secretly-- as immoral actions taken by the state. Beyond that though, we do find other significant problems with HCS HB820 as already outlined.
(Some material for this sheet came from an MCC document).
Urge Your Senator to Oppose House Bill 945
--A bill dictating capital punishment for the murder of a “criminal justice official” unless jurors can be convinced other wise.
HB 945 is scheduled for a public hearing, at 6pm, Monday, 23 April before the Senate Judiciary Committee and could voted on in the executive session of the committee’s weekly 30 April meeting. Here are some reasons senators should vote against the measure….
HB 945 is political window dressing.
Since 1989, four men have been executed in
HB 945 undermines the jury system, insulting the ability of
The bill states an individual convicted of murdering a justice official “shall be punished by death.”
In death penalty cases, the jury is already "death-qualified.” Prospective jurors are questioned about their opinions on the death penalty, with the trial judge excusing people whose opposition to the concept would prevent them from returning a sentence of “death”. Through a limited number of peremptory strikes, prosecutors exclude citizens for various reasons, particularly for not being vigorous in their support of capital punishment (defense attorneys strike an equal number including those they see as enthusiastic supporters). In the end though, only death-penalty proponents serve as jurors in capital trials.
HB 945 would extend appeals compounding the anguish of murder-victim families and increasing costs for
Under current law, prosecutors are reasonably required to convince jurors during the sentencing phase of a capital trial that aggravating factors outweigh mitigators. This bill would seismically shift onto the defendant (and his or her attorney), the burden of proving that the punishment for an individual convicted of murdering an official should be something besides “death.” It would reverse the long-standing principle that the prosecution is obliged to prove all the necessary elements to justify any criminal sentence. Defense counsel would be compelled to challenge the constitutionality of the provision, ultimately to the US Supreme Court. Rather than aiding prosecutors, this bill would add immense legal costs--almost all at taxpayer expense--delaying the final resolution of these cases for months or years more, further extending the time which murder-victim families have to cope publicly with their horrific loss.
Rather than genuinely and appropriately honoring officials tragically slain while performing their duty, HB 945 seems at least as much inspired to serve some elected officials, intent on tallying political points by appearing “tough on crime.”
HB 945 would help codify a hierarchy of valued human life.
We deeply appreciate the civic work performed by criminal justice officials, recognizing many risk their lives just by doing their jobs. Furthermore, we view each human life as equally precious. We believe no one (and no state for that matter) has the right to take any human life. HB 945 however, would essentially establish the lives of criminal justice officials as constituting worth beyond all other citizens. Someone convicted of killing such a man or woman would automatically be sentenced to death, unless defense attorneys could convince jurors mitigating factors merited the only other alternative sentence, life without the possibility of parole. HB 945 is more of a throwback it seems, to colonial or feudal societies where the lives of the knighted or noble class were deemed of greater value than those of commoners.
HB 945 by expanding the death penalty contradicts the global trend.
We realize in Missouri: people have been wrongfully convicted, exonerated and some executed; that the current lengthy legal process (worthwhile to minimize case inequities like wrongful convictions) do further traumatize murder victims families; and that legal expenses are more exorbitant in capital than non-capital murder cases (as learned by reports from other states.
Prepared by Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty
For more information contact Jeff Stack with MADP at 573-449-4585 or Rita Linhardt at 573-635-7239 with the Missouri Catholic Conference (MCC).
Thanks in advance for your efforts. In solidarity,
Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty, Legislative Coordinator
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