Bill concealing the identities of the execution team poised to pass House.
Immediate calls needed to stop this bill that prevents government oversight!
House Bill 820 is set for final passage in the House of Representatives. HB 820 provides that the identities of the Department of Corrections execution team shall be confidential and not subject to discovery, subpoena, or other means of legal compulsion. Furthermore, any execution protocol of the Department of Corrections is a closed record, except for the provision that directly relates to the administration of lethal gas or chemicals.
The Missouri Catholic Conference opposes HB 820 in its current form because it prevents accountability and oversight on the execution process. While the MCC is opposed to all executions on moral grounds, if the state is to carry out capital punishment, there needs to be public assurance that the execution is being carried out in a competent, professional manner that respects the dignity of all involved. This bill cloaks the execution process in a veil of secrecy.
Regardless of one’s position on the death penalty, there are reasons to be concerned about HB 820:
1. Missouri has carried out 66 executions since 1989. At least two of those executions, Emmitt Foster in 1995 and Bert Hunter in 2000, had problems connected to the competency of the execution team. HB 820 could potentially be used to cover-up future mishaps, accidents, and other extraordinary means used to prepare and carry out an execution.
2. Executions in our state are currently on hold as Missouri’s execution protocol is being challenged in federal court. The federal judge ordered the stay after testimony from the Missouri doctor who had assisted in state executions since 1995. In a deposition to the court the doctor testified that the execution protocol was not written down and that he had independent authority to change it. He also admitted that he was dyslexic and that he sometimes transposed figures. It is apparent that the court felt there was disorganization in the way executions were being carried out in Missouri.
3. As written this bill could prevent even judicial or governmental review of the execution process. Without oversight Missourians won’t have access to information regarding whether the execution team members are properly trained and can carry out the execution in a competent manner that doesn’t violate the constitution’s ban on cruel or unusual punishment.
4. Some may argue that this bill is necessary to protect the safety of the execution team. However there are legitimate ways to provide oversight to the execution process while still protecting the safety of the team members. Furthermore, the bill doesn’t provide any protection to others involved in the death penalty process. The identities of judges, jurors, and prosecutors are well known and could still be subject to retaliation from angry inmate families.
ACTION: Call or email your state representative today. House Bill 820 could be voted on by the House of Representatives at any time.
MESSAGE: Urge your representative to vote “NO” on HB 820. Regardless of one’s position on capital punishment this bill prevents oversight and accountability on an important public policy of the state. This bill cloaks the execution process in a veil of secrecy and prevents Missourians from knowing that executions are being carried out in a competent manner that doesn’t violate the constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
ROSTER OF STATE REPRESENTATIVES: