SCS/SB 321 - This act creates a ten-member commission to study the death penalty in Missouri. It shall include two members of the House of Representatives with one from each party, two members from the Senate with one from each party, a county prosecutor appointed by the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, a criminal defense lawyer appointed by the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the State Public Defender, the Attorney General, a murder victim's family member and a family member of a person on death row, both appointed by the department of corrections. The commission shall be comprised equally of people in favor and opposed to the death penalty and shall be appointed by December 1, 2009.
The commission is required to hold public hearings and study all aspects of the death penalty as administered in Missouri, including all cases in which the death penalty was sought. Through the use of random sampling, the commission will review a statistical representation of those cases in which charges of first degree murder, second degree murder, or voluntary manslaughter were filed after January 1, 1977. The review and analysis shall examine data concerning the facts of the offenses, the county where charges were filed, the charges originally filed, the crime for which the person was convicted, the sentence, personal information about the convicted person, evidence of mental illness, prior criminal history of the defendant, information about the legal defense team and prosecuting team, the body of evidence used to obtain a conviction, results of appellate review and post-conviction review, and costs for implementing the sentence.
In considering the experience and training of attorneys, the commission shall consider the experience and training levels required by the Missouri Supreme Court, other courts and legislatures, and recommendations of national associations.
The commission shall study whether alternatives to the death penalty exist that ensure public safety and address other social and penological interests. The findings and recommendations of the commission shall be reported to the Governor, the Missouri Supreme Court, and the General Assembly by January 1, 2012.
The commission shall recommend any proposed modifications to Missouri law necessary to ensure: 1) defendants sentenced to death are indeed guilty of first degree murder, 2)adequacy of trial and appellate legal counsel, 3) accuracy of findings of guilt of the accused, 4) race is not impermissibly a factor in determining implementation of the death penalty, 5) adequate appellate and post-conviction procedures exist to remedy errors at trial, and 5) prosecutors throughout the state use similar criteria to determine whether to seek the death penalty.
This act is similar to HB 1614 (2008), SB 800 (2008) and HB 484 (2009).
SUSAN HENDERSON MOORE