Legislation that would repeal the death penalty in Missouri has been offered again in the state legislature. Republican State Representative T.J. Berry has filed HB 772 and says when he first joined the legislature four years ago, he was a death penalty supporter.
“I didn’t start out there until I really, really looked at the issue thoroughly,” said Berry. “Being a representative made me look at the issue thoroughly.”
Berry says it’s cheaper for the state to sentence someone to life without parole than to give them a death sentence.
“When you look at all of the legal costs of doing a death penalty case, it becomes extremely expensive for the state to do,” said Berry.
Many have said the goal of the death penalty is to serve as a deterrent, but Berry says it’s no longer a deterrent when it takes an average of over 18 years to prosecute someone.
“If it was done the next day after the guilty verdict, and it was public, maybe, but that’s not our system and that’s not what we do,” said Berry.
Last year, Republican representative Paul Wieland proposed a repeal of the death penalty and several Republicans, including Berry, were co-sponsors. Berry hopes to gain more support from fellow members of his caucus.
“The more you make this a fiscal responsibility discussion, I think the more Republicans that you will have on board,” said Berry.
The state’s next execution is set for Wednesday. Walter Storey is scheduled die by lethal injection for the 1990 murder of Jill Frey.