Those of us in the movement to abolish capital punishment have ceaselessly cited the many reasons why the policy is wrong. More recently, the movement has focused on the millions of public dollars spent to kill people who kill people. Why are we still spending money on state-sponsored homicide when we can’t afford adequate support for public education, transportation and other crucial services?
It is good to see a bill proposing a cost study of the death penalty in Missouri making progress in the state Senate. Sponsored by Sen. Joe Keaveny, D-St. Louis, the bill (SB 61) calls for the state auditor’s office to find out and make a report of the costs of prosecution and defense in death penalty murder cases, and compare them to the costs of non-death penalty murder cases.
The bill was recently adopted in committee and put on a list of those to be debated in the full Senate. However, an amendment was added in committee to require that private funds be used to pay for the study, which has an estimated cost of about $200,000. Because state audits of public policy are always done with public money, it seems reasonable for the Senate to remove the amendment and approve the original bill.
Hopefully, in a couple of years the public and its state elected leaders will have the evidence to show that we can no longer afford the expense of capital punishment.
Mike Schilling • Springfield, Mo.