STUDIES: American Bar Association Recommends Reforms to Missouri's Death Penalty

The American Bar Association has released a report on Missouri’s capital punishment system after a two-year study of the state’s death penalty. The study was conducted by legal experts, including former and current judges, lawyers, and law professors. Douglas Copeland, a member of the assessment team and former president of the Missouri Bar, said “We identified substantial problems with the death penalty in Missouri. Our group unanimously agreed there are key reforms needed to ensure fairness in the system and prevent conviction of the innocent.” The recommended reforms include:

- Narrowing the classes of cases that are eligible for the death penalty, to include only the most serious murders
- Improving standards for defense counsel in capital cases
- Improving law enforcement and prosecutor practices to prevent wrongful convictions and promote apprehension of the guilty
- Prohibiting the execution of the severely mentally ill

The study also noted progress already made in Missouri to ensure fairness in capital punishment, including creation of the Missouri State Public Defender and new accreditation requirements for crime labs.

(Press Release, “ABA Panel Recommends Reforms for Missouri’s Death Penalty System,” American Bar Association, March 1, 2012.) Read the full study. Read more Studies on the death penalty.