Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty had their Lobby Day at the Missouri State Capitol April 1st. Pam Demasi and I were able to attend and met face to face with our Senator, Ryan Silvey. We encouraged him to vote in favor Senate Bill #732. This bill would increase accuracy in obtaining convictions against perpetrators of violent crimes and help minimize wrongful convictions, thus promoting public safety and enhancing fairness in Missouri’s criminal justice system. SB 732, introduced by Senator Joe Keaveny, features three primary components: 1) Requires law enforcement departments around the state to develop, write and submit eyewitness identification procedures to the Department of Public Safety. It would provide guidelines for standardizing best-practice procedures for departments; 2) Strengthens Missouri law requiring law enforcement officers to record entire interrogations of any suspects of serious crimes while in their custody; 3) Directs law enforcement departments around the state to adopt standardized best-practice techniques to collect, identify, preserve and store biological evidence. Crime labs would also be required to establish standard testing procedures.
One of the stronger talking points we used to promote the bill was it would limit wrongful convictions. Such mistakes compromise public safety by allowing criminals to victimize more individuals and avoiding legal consequences for their wrong doing. Another reason for supporting the bill is it minimizes the chance of misidentifying individuals and could avoid life-devastating experiences while saving taxpayers millions of dollars paid to exonerees from wrongful conviction lawsuits. Overall, this was a very well organized and effective lobby day. We kept the message simple and stayed on task with this one bill. Senator Keaveny’s other bill, Senate Bill #753 shows a lot of promise. This is a Cost Study Bill showing it costs more to execute someone compared to life in prison without parole. Please continue to pray for an end to the death penalty in Missouri. Unfortunately, there is another execution scheduled for the end of the month. I will keep you posted on the upcoming vigil.
Br. Daryl Charron