Senate bill creates confidentiality for execution administers
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Senate bill creates confidentiality for execution administers

Date: March 5, 2007
By: Matt Tilden
State Capitol Bureau
Links: SB 258

JEFFERSON CITY - The executioners of convicted killers would get additional protection under a bill proposed by a Missouri senator. Sen. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, has proposed a bill to create an execution team whose members' identities would be kept confidential. 

Engler cited the safety of the execution team as a concern and said he believes that it is important that they do not have to fear any backlash for their participation in the execution.

The bill also prevents medical or licensing boards from taking disciplinary action against an execution team member for his or her participation. 

"If we're going to do the death sentence and we're going to perform the death sentence, then the people that do it and execute the prisoners, their identies should be kept confidential," Engler said.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Engler says he hopes that it will be looked at by the committee in the next couple weeks. 

Rita Linhardt, a spokeswoman Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty, questioned Monday whether Engler's bill would provide adequate judicial and public oversight over the execution and how the public would be able to track the process since the team members' identities would be secret.

"If this is public policy, then there should be some sort of public oversight," Linhardt said.

A member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Jeff Smith, D-St. Louis, said that he doesn't support the death penalty, nor the creation of an execution team to administer it.

Engler said that while he appreciates all views on the death penalty and respects opposition to it, his bill concerns the protocol of the death penalty rather than its overall application, and that the creation of confidentiality is a neccessity for the death penalty to continue.   

The bill would make it a misdemeanor crime to disclose the name of anyone on the execution team without approval of the director of the Department of Corrections.

All executions have been on hold in the Missouri since June 2006, when U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan ruled on behalf of a death row inmate who claimed that the methods used in executions pose an unreasonable risk of excruciating pain. 

But while Engler has proposed a bill to changed the way executions are carried out, another Republican has propsed a more drastic step. Rep. Bill Deeken, R-Jefferson City, has proposed a bill this session that would put a moratorium on the death penalty until 2011.

 

Graphics info:

Senate Bill 258, if passed, would: