Friday, March 20, 2009

MO Death Penalty Moratorium Update

As promised in our round-up on death penalty legislation, an update on Missouri's proposed moratorium from Jude Huntz. Jude is Director of Human Rights for the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph:

An Update on the Missouri Moratorium Bills

By Jude Huntz

Both the Missouri Assembly and Senate have bills that would place a three year moratorium on executions in our state. In addition, the legislation would require the establishment of a study commission that would examine the practice of capital punishment throughout the state. Issues such as unfair application of the death penalty on the poor and minorities, the higher cost of execution as opposed to life in prison, and the convictions of innocent persons will encompass the work of this commission.

Currently, Senate Bill 321 has passed through committee, but the committee separated the study commission from the moratorium, indicating that senators are likely to support the study commission more than the halt to executions. The Assembly bill #484 goes before the committee for testimony in two weeks. It is our hope that the Assembly will keep the bill intact.

You can help us in our advocacy for these bills. Many of our parishes have conducted a postcard campaign to our assemblymen and state senators. More than 4,000 cards have been sent thus far, and we have just printed another 2,000 to keep up with demand. In addition, other dioceses across the state have heard about our campaign and have asked to participate, so we have sent out electronic versions to them for distribution. Please take part in your parish’s postcard campaign to make your voice heard.

Momentum is building for the end to the death penalty across our country. We can continue this positive movement in our state by passing a moratorium to halt the death penalty in Missouri. For more information on additional ways to help, contact me at huntz@diocesekcsj.org

Jude has begun a blog for the Human Rights office where he is posting weekly reflections on the Catholic understanding of human rights and social justice. You can visit it here, and be sure to read his latest post on St. Paul and the death penalty.

Anyone in a parish who wants to start a postcard campaign for a moratorium on the death penalty should email Jude. That includes people in Missouri parishes outside the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph.