Missouri Lawmakers Respond to the Execution Incident in Oklahoma

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COLUMBIA - The execution that went wrong Tuesday evening in Oklahoma could bring back talks of the execution process in Missouri in the next senate session.

"With it happening last night I'm sure there will be more talks about it," said Representative Eric Burlison of the 133rd District. "I feel that regardless of where people are on either side, whether you believe in having a death penalty or you don't believe in having a death penalty, regardless of where you stand on the issue, we should all agree the process should be very transparent."

Currently, Missouri does have the death penalty where officials can only use a gas chamber or a lethal injection to execute anyone on death row. 

Earlier this year, Representative John Rizzo filed a bill to create a commission that would go over the process of the death penalty, but it didn't receive as much attraction as he had hoped. However, he said there are other promising bills out there, like House Bill 1737 by Burlison.

House Bill 1737 would give more power to the Joint Committee on Rules (JCAR), a committee consisting of both representatives and senators, regarding changes in execution rules. Burlison said in the statute related to the Department of Corrections right now, the department doesn't have to go through JCAR when they make any changes to the execution process.

"Because of that, what's really unfortunate is, because they don't have to go through the JCAR Committee, they have been making significant changes in rules, changes regarding what drugs can be used or are being used in the execution process and even the method of the injection," said Burlison.

Rizzo also talked about how even though it was something that happened one day ago and Missouri lawmakers are busy with the session coming to an end, the incident from Oklahoma has made an impact.

"People are waking up to the fact that these executions aren't handled properly," said Rizzo. "If you're going to invoke the ultimate penalty then make sure it's done correctly and not violating the U.S. Constitution."

Burlison, who is a supporter of the death penalty, said the process needs to respect the victim's families, the person that is being executed and his or her family as well.

"I don't know what they were using in the execution in Oklahoma and that's why I think it's important that we do know," said Burlison. "We need to know when they make changes in Missouri, what the drugs are they're using, because at the end of the day we don't want to have irresponsible results."

The next execution in Missouri is scheduled for May and Rizzo said there could be a very strong possibility of using the same pharmacy as Oklahoma used, so that should definitely give pause to any other executions.

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