ST. LOUIS -- Wesley Bell ran the first prosecutor campaign in the state of Missouri to explicitly denounce the death penalty and promise to never seek a death sentence in St. Louis County. His campaign website points to the facts that capital punishment is expensive, ineffective at deterrence, and is also racially biased. He recognizes that decades of data and information determine that Capital Punishment is not a deterrent for violent crime.
Wesley Bell held true to his promise by confirming he will not seek the death penalty in the Catholic Supply Store murder case despite public pressure from the former prosecutor, the media, and county police officers. The St. Louis County Reform Coalition commends Bell for upholding the values of life, for listening to victims, and for standing up to the promises he made to the voters of St. Louis County who spoke loud and clear for peace and justice during the 2018 primary election. Our prayers are with the family of Jamie Schmidt. We recognize the profound importance of serious consequences for crimes such as these. It is a heartbreaking loss.
Capital punishment is not the answer, however. Of Missouri’s 88 executions from 1977 to 2018, seventeen executions came from St. Louis County. Overall, 51 percent, or 45, of total executions came from St. Louis County, the City of St. Louis, Jackson County, and St. Charles County. Currently there are three pending capital cases out of St. Louis County and six of the current 25 death row inmates are from St. Louis County. The St. Louis County Reform Coalition will continue to watch these cases and work with the prosecutor's office to assure Bell’s accountability to the voters.
The St. Louis County Reform Coalition
Action St. Louis
American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri
Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression
Color of Change
Missouri Conference of the NAACP
Missouri Faith Voices
Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
Organization for Black Struggle
About The St. Louis County Reform Coalition: The coalition represents individuals and organizations who are deeply committed to policies aimed at reducing racial bias and improving the criminal justice system in St. Louis County.