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Lawmakers Consider Legislative Action To Death Penalty Controversy

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Two Missouri lawmakers who carried legislation dealing with the death penalty in 2013 are considering whether recent events would help or hinder such bills this year.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Two Missouri lawmakers who carried legislation dealing with the death penalty in 2013 are considering whether recent events would help or hinder such bills this year.

Imperial representative Paul Wieland proposed in 2013 the repeal of the death penalty in Missouri. He thinks a report by St. Louis Public Radio that the Corrections Department is getting its execution drugs from an Oklahoma compounding pharmacy not licensed in Missouri raises questions about how the death penalty is administered.

"I happen to be opposed to the death penalty, however I think any legislator would want to make sure the Department of Corrections is acting according to state statute and within the limits of the power we've given them," Wieland says. "I think it's more of a good government issue than it is a pro or con death penalty issue."

St. Louis Senator Joe Keaveny proposes a cost comparison between death sentences and life terms. He also thinks the St. Louis NPR report should stir discussion.

"Not only that, it seems there are fewer and fewer places to obtain the necessary drug regimen or something similar," says Keaveny, "It's strictly supply and demand. That's going to drive the price up."

Wieland says there have been enough controversy and issues raised about how the Corrections Department is administering the death penalty that it bears investigation by a legislative committee, such as when a House committee looked into the failure of the Mamtek sucralose plant at Moberly or the Department of Revenue's handling of information provided by Missouri driver's license applicants.

"It all fits into this common theme of the (Nixon) administration's kind of going and doing what they want to do without really being accountable," Wieland says. "I would think that it would be something that we as a legislative body would want to get a hold of and make sure that the Department and the administration are doing things correctly."

Wieland thinks the legislature might need to get more involved in oversight of the Corrections Department.

"There may be something that we need to do that makes them more accountable to the legislature and to the people of Missouri," says Wieland.

He isn't sure that he will offer again his bill that would repeal the death penalty, but Keaveny says he will offer his proposal again after the legislative session begins next week.


(Mike Lear, Missourinet)


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