For Immediate Release:
March 28, 2013

Contact: Stacy Morse
(573) 751-3599
Senator Keaveny Introduces Concurrent Resolution to Study Death Penalty Costs in Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY — Yesterday, Sen. Joe Keaveny, D-St. Louis, introduced SCR 14 in the Missouri Senate to better understand the costs of administering the death penalty in Missouri and how those costs affect taxpayers in the state. Senator Keaveny emphasizes that, considering Missouri’s strained budget, Missouri needs to better understand what it’s spending to administer the death penalty.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 14 directs the Oversight Division of the Committee on Legislative Research to study the costs of administering the death penalty. The division would need to compare the costs regarding cases in which:

  • The death penalty is sought and imposed;
  • The death penalty is not sought and the Missourian is sentenced to life in prison without parole; and
  • The death penalty is sought, but not imposed.

 “At a time when our vital state programs are in jeopardy and many Missourians’ wallets are becoming thinner, we need to determine exactly how much it costs to execute a person in our state,” Sen. Keaveny said.

Senator Keaveny notes that, in addition to the state’s uninformed status of the overall costs of administering the death penalty, Missouri’s criminal procedures system has several flaws and its structure must be streamlined to prevent wrongful convictions of innocent people.

“We need to research the inefficiencies in our capital punishment system to prevent wrongful executions, and, by eliminating those defects, our state would save money by preventing the unnecessary administration of the death penalty,” he said.

Facts listed by the American Bar Association regarding Missouri’s criminal justice system noted in SCR 14 include:

  • Missouri is in compliance with only nine out of 95 best practices to ensure that innocent people are not executed.
  • Several people in Missouri have been wrongfully convicted of murder, due to eyewitness misidentification, false confessions, and untruthful jailhouse informant testimony.
  • Various states, including Illinois in 2011, have abolished the death penalty and noted the significant number of individuals on death row who were later found innocent.
  • Death penalty cases cost Missouri’s underfunded state public defender system seven to 10 times more to defend than other murder cases.
  • A study conducted in Florida noted that the state would save $51 million annually if the death penalty were abolished.

Senator Keaveny is also sponsoring SB 61, which would require the auditor to make a one-time report on the costs of administering the death penalty in Missouri. An amendment added to the bill during its time in committee would require the auditor’s report to be paid for by private funds, to which Sen. Keaveny is opposed.

“If outside groups are required to pay for the study, you open up the possibility for biased and tainted results,” Sen. Keaveny said. “We don’t ask for private donations to fund other studies or audits that the auditor performs. Studying the cost of the death penalty should be the responsibility of the state.”

Senate Bill 61 received debate on Monday, March 25, and was tabled for future consideration.
To learn more about SCR 14 and SB 61 and to follow their progress through the Missouri Legislature, please visit the Missouri Senate website at