Grass-roots organizations such as Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty have joined efforts with the MoratoriumNow! state campaign in calling for a moratorium on executions while the death penalty is thoroughly studied.
These organizations assert that there are moral and legal ramifications to how the death penalty is enforced.
Death penalty statistics from amnestyusa.org state that as of Friday, Missouri has executed 67 criminals since 1976. That places Missouri fifth among states that have the death penalty. Texas is first with 448 executions.
The number of executed inmates that were later exonerated based on new evidence is cause for alarm to death penalty opponents. In the last decade, three Missouri men were exonerated after being sentenced to death, according to Moratorium Now!'s Web site.
Other arguments for eliminating the death penalty include claims that it does not deter crime and is more likely to be used against minorities, according to Amnesty USA's fact sheet.
The only alternative to the death penalty is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Arguably the most important counterargument is the effect on the surviving family and friends of victims. If the death penalty indeed grants retribution and justice to those who are most profoundly impacted, then there is merit to keep it.
But if a study finds that killing murderers does more harm than good to the healing process of those affected, perhaps there is no good reason to enforce executions.
Should the death penalty be abolished in Missouri? Is the potential threat of killing an innocent worth allowing a convicted murderer to live?