The state Senate has debated a repeal of the death penalty, but that’s as far as the idea will go this year.
Senator Paul Wieland (R-Imperial) has offered a death penalty repeal bill for the past six years, but this session is the first time the full senate has debated the issue. Weiland said because there isn’t enough support, he won’t ask to have the bill brought back up for more debate. It did not come to a vote.
Senator Jason Holsman (D-Kansas City) is pleased that senators had a chance to discuss the proposal.
“Certainly since I’ve been here, maybe since I was first elected to the General Assembly in 2006, this is the first time I can ever remember hearing and having a meaningful debate on the subject where the members of the chamber just weren’t afraid to talk about the death penalty,” said Holsman.
Senator Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) supports a repeal and said the death penalty is not applied fairly.
“If you are a black person who kills a white person, you are fairly likely to get the death penalty. But, there has only been one white person in modern history in Missouri who has been executed for killing a black person,” said Schaaf.
Senator Mike Parson (R-Bolivar), a former sheriff, opposes a repeal.
“It’s almost as though we are talking about victims,” said Parson. “What we’re really talking about is killers. We’re talking about people who have done pre-meditated crimes.”
Senator Ed Emery (R-Lamar) supports the death penalty.
“If we say anything less than a life is equal to a life, we have devalued life,” said Emery.
Wieland considers it a victory that the bill was debated on the floor.
Six Republicans and one Democrat are co-sponsoring a repeal bill in the House.