TODAY'S QUESTION: Should the death penalty be abolished in Missouri?

Monday, January 11, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST

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 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?

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marvin saunders January 11, 2010 | 5:22 a.m.

The only thing wrong with the death penalty is they keep the people on death row way to long & they don't put enough of them to death.They should have a death once a week in every state.Why are they letting them live,they got death so put the bastards to death..or turn them over to the victims families.Thats another thing thats wrong with our country,we don't mean what we say.You do a crime here we feed,give them cable tv,clothes,don't have to work & all kinds of toys to keep them happy.Jail isn't that bad,been there done that..

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Christopher Foote January 11, 2010 | 9:57 a.m.

The death penalty should be abolished. My primary reason for opposing it is that our judicial process is fallible. Since 1989, 17 people on death row have been exonerated by DNA testing. In the absence of extraordinary measures, that is 17 people who would have been falsely executed. It defies reason to think that the judicial process only erred in these specific cases.

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Ray Shapiro January 11, 2010 | 11:55 a.m.

("The only alternative to the death penalty is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.")
We need more alternatives.

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Anna Codutti January 11, 2010 | 1:11 p.m.

In addition to a highly fallible judicial system, a good reason to abolish capital punishment is the cost. Inmates languish on death row for an average of 10 years (the appeals process for a death sentence can easily last a decade). Housing a death row inmate costs about four and a half times more than what is spent to house a life-sentence prisoner.

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Gregg Bush January 11, 2010 | 10:55 p.m.

Abolish it.

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Donnie Morehouse January 12, 2010 | 7:31 a.m.

There are many law enforcement officials who say that the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime. Instead, it as a huge drain on public dollars that could be better spent on public safety. Repeal the death penalty because it is poor public policy.

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Ann Johnson January 12, 2010 | 8:13 a.m.

I too believe the death penalty should be abolished for more reasons than I have room for here. The death penalty is unjust and arbitrary. It has more to do with socioeconomic class than anything else. It creates more victims, perpetuates a cycle of killing, assumes that people do have the right to take a life, is not infallible, etc. I hate living in a state that plucks people out and kills them, even now and then. And, who are the poor folks that we pay to do the killing? What does this do to them?

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Margaret Phillips January 12, 2010 | 11:03 a.m.

"Should the death penalty be abolished in Missouri?"

" Is the potential threat of killing an innocent worth allowing a convicted murderer to live?"
Yes, but this only part of the question, I think. There are many reasons in addition to possible innocence to oppose the death penalty. I wholeheartedly agree with people's desire to live in safety and to be confident justice will be served, but that goes beyond individual cases. I believe that when the state kills, it legitimizes killing as a response to problems or problem people. That does not make me feel safe.

Also, death penalty does not save the state money. Studies are beginning to emerge suggesting that having the death penalty is much more expensive than not having it.

Finally, if it's really making the murderer suffer that you want (and I understand that feeling), many people have said it is more painful to know that the rest of your life will stretch out in prison, with no hope of a normal life.

Margaret Phillips

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Mary Ellen McDonagh January 12, 2010 | 8:20 p.m.

The death penalty is expensive, not to mention arbitrary. It is based on georgraphy, ethnicity, income and the whim of the prosecutor. It is most certainly NOT a deterrent to crime. Frankly, it is barbaric. No other Western Democracy has it. Life in Prison without parole is a horrible sentnce. Think about it! A LIPWOP sentence is NOT soft on crime. This is one more expense Missouri could do without. Let's call a halt! Mary Ellen McDonagh

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Diana Oleskevich January 13, 2010 | 2:43 p.m.

Killing people to show that killing is wrong just doesn't make sense! Also, if Missouri would eliminate death penalty sentencing we could have saved at least 67 million dollars because all the appeals and lawyers and years of court cases cost the taxpayers alot of money. Didn't God say "Thou Shalt not Kill?" I think that includes the state.

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Dudley Sharp January 21, 2010 | 3:45 p.m.

Of course the death penalty deters:

23 recent deterrence studies finding for deterrence, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation,

"The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents"

"Deterrence and the Death Penalty: A Reply to Radelet and Lacock"

"Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let's be clear"

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Dudley Sharp January 21, 2010 | 3:49 p.m.

The state exoneration numbers are highly inflated by the anti death penalty folks.

In fact, innocents are more protected with the death penalty.

The 130 (now 139) death row "innocents" scam

"The Innocent Executed: Deception & Death Penalty Opponents"

"The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents"

A Death Penalty Red Herring: The Inanity and Hypocrisy of Perfection, Lester Jackson Ph.D.,

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kayla ott January 23, 2010 | 6:41 p.m.

The death penalty should be abolished. Not just here in the U.S. , but all over the world. We would spend far less tax dollars per year if we would just put people away for life without parole.

"Everyone, including the most abominable of human beings, has a right to life, and capital punishment is therefore unconstitutional." -Arthur Chaskalson.

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Be Peace March 11, 2011 | 5:38 p.m.

Greetings from Texas... execution capital of the Western Hemisphere. In 2010 we executed 17 people and 8 more received death sentences... you do the math... A death penalty case in Texas costs taxpayers an average of $2.3 million, about three times the cost of imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security level for 40 years.
A review of the death penalty's cost, including six years of appeals, by the Dallas Morning News for the story "Executions Cost Texas Millions" March 1992
... these are at 1992 prices... adjusting for inflation... Ok so how many classroom teachers will we fire, Medicare patients go untreated,children who will not receive medical care, nursing home beds unfunded .... just so we can...

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