Home » Featured »Missouri »Politics/Policy » Currently Reading:

Readers: Missouri Should Follow Nebraska In Repealing The Death Penalty

June 3, 2015 Featured, Missouri, Politics/Policy 7 Comments
St. Louis Police Headquarters, 2011 Photo
St. Louis Police Headquarters, 2011 Photo

When I posted the Sunday Poll I wasn’t sure what the final tally would be, I was pleasantly surprised by the results:

Q: Should Missouri follow Nebraska and abolish the death penalty?

  1. Yes 24 [70.59%]
  2. No 8 [23.53%]
  3. TIE 1 [2.94%]
    1. Maybe
    2. Unsure/No Opinion

It seems unlikely we’ll follow Nebraska given our history:

Missouri has executed 56 men since 1997, including 10 in 2014 alone. That tied Missouri with Texas, which has 20 million more people, for the year’s most. (Editorial: Nebraska’s enlightened conservatives abolish the death penalty)

Tied with a state with a substantially greater population for the most executions last year — what an honor.

Interestingly, the debate isn’t over in Nebraska:

Nebraska Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts says lawmakers’ repeal of the death penalty won’t stop his administration from proceeding with executions of 10 people already sentenced to death.

Ricketts said Friday that he doesn’t plan to cancel a shipment of lethal injection drugs that the state bought earlier this month. (Nebraska’s Governor Vows To Proceed With Executions Despite Death Penalty Repeal)

One thing is certain, there’s no shortage of information online saying the death penalty does or does not deter crime. Still, many of us just don’t think it’s a deterrent:

Wyoming attorney Traci Lacock said she has seen the deterrence question both as an academic, working with Boulder’s Radelet, and as a public defender. For her, deterrence issues became much simpler over time.

Her clients accused of violent crimes were coping with grinding poverty, mental-health issues and other challenges, Lacock said. 

“Are you really going to be asking the question, ‘Does my state have the death penalty or not?’ when you are doing something horrific to another person,” Lacock said. “Just basic common sense says no.” (No credible evidence on whether death penalty deters, experts say)

What about as a form of punishment?  It’s uncivilized, we also know that many have been wrongly convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. If we find out the truth they can be released from prison — we can’t bring someone back to life!

The rate of erroneous conviction of innocent criminal defendants is often described as not merely unknown but unknowable. We use survival analysis to model this effect, and estimate that if all death-sentenced defendants remained under sentence of death indefinitely at least 4.1% would be exonerated. We conclude that this is a conservative estimate of the proportion of false conviction among death sentences in the United States. (National Academy of Sciences: Rate of false conviction of criminal defendants who are sentenced to death)

Four precent would be exonerated! Missouri should follow Nebraska and repeal the death penalty!

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "7 comments" on this Article:

  1. Mark-AL says:

    I wonder this: what will deter an inmate, who is currently serving a life sentence w/o parole, from killing a guard or a fellow inmate, or a dentist/doctor who might be treating the inmate? Another life sentence? I think we need to tread cautiously when we consider applying absolutes in this area of the law.

      • Please do not just post links without saying something about why we should click them.

        • JZ71 says:

          First one – growing old in prison, second one – “40 Reasons Why Our Jails Are Full of Black and Poor People”.

          Responding to Mark, yes, there is always the possibility that any inmate can do bad things to a guard, but that should not play a big role in sentencing. Incarceration is meant both as a punishment and a deterrent, and everyone will have their own opinions on just what is “appropriate” – that’s why we have legislators to set the limits and judges to impose them. Is it always “fair”? Absolutely not! But with life, there is always an opportunity to revisit decisions, with death, not so much . . . .

          • Mark-AL says:

            Early in my career when I was still doing civil, I was assigned to design the civil work for a prison cell building in Indian Springs, NV–a new building among several existing. My first day on the site, I walked through the morgue wing and noticed a full body bag. I asked the warden about it. He told me that a “lifer” had murdered one of his fellow inmates by crushing his scull, then wrapping the body in newspaper and lighting it on fire. Nice guy. He said that because “lifers w/o parole” have no hope of improving their lot in life, they are among the most incorrigible of inmates. I’m fairly certain this was not an isolated incident. I wonder if, after the second murder, this guy’ name would have earned a place on your death-row roster? Is one murder not enough to justify “eye for an eye”? Does society have an obligation to rid the world of these scum bags so that they don’t become second and third offenders? There are times when pulling the plug, or inserting the syringe, or throwing he switch is justifiable and is probably just the right thing to do, but that should be considered on a case-by-case basis, IMO.

    • Justin says:

      Research on this subject tends to show that the death penalty is not much of a crime deterrent above and beyond a life-sentence.

  2. Sgt Stadanko says:

    US is the only criminal justice system that protect the criminals. Wonder why we have such high incarceration rates compared to most of the world. As with everything in life, if you obey law, you have nothing to worry about. Tougher laws will reduce crime. it’s for the good of society, and not one person’s bad decisions. Sorry but hang em high, and often. thanks, Sarge


Comment on this Article: