Association of Prosecuting AttorneysMarch 02, 2012
ABA Report Recommends Changes to Missouri Death Penalty System
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri prosecutors too often are given the opportunity to seek the death penalty in murder cases, according to a new report. Aside from limiting the types of cases in which the death penalty can be sought, the American Bar Association-sponsored report makes more than 25 recommendations that it says would improve fairness in the use of capital punishment here. The recommendations range from new evidence preservation policies to laws that aim to protect the mentally disabled. Currently, prosecutors can use one of 17 aggravating circumstances to argue for death sentences in murder cases. "Under the current law, virtually any murder is eligible for the death penalty," said St. Louis attorney Douglas Copeland, who co-chaired the assessment committee that drafted the recommendations. The committee's report, released during a news conference at the state Capitol today, recommends a substantial revision of the aggravating circumstances policy, narrowing the use only to the most serious cases.