Voices Lost and How Judges Undermine Missourians

Voices Lost in the Craig Wood Sentence: On January, 11, 2017, Judge Thomas Mountjoy dealt violent injury to a number of people.

How Judges Undermine the Missourians who Serve on Juries: Missouri judges have rejected the death penalty in every case since 2013, but the state recently had two new death sentences within just four months of each other.

In both of these cases, two individual judges undermined the role of the juries.

Consider raising your voice by submitting an op-ed about judicial override in the Rice and Wood cases to the Springfield News Leader, The Kansas City Star, or the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Missouri's "Death Belt" and more: Our 2017 Annual Report

Our 2017 Annual Report finds the distribution of Missouri’s executions and its "personality-driven capital punishment” correlates closely with historic regional patterns of lynching behavior in the state.

The distribution of Missouri’s executions in the past three decades create a “death belt” along a central corridor through the state. The regions along this belt were also some of the most active in recorded lynchings between 1877-1950, suggesting that today’s death penalty has its roots in the local cultures that pursued acts of lynching.

We also look at issues in Missouri's death penalty such as the unconstitutionality of judicial override, a pending botched execution, and trends in executions and sentencing.

Read the full report here.

Spare Russell a Painful Death

Russell Bucklew is scheduled to be executed Tuesday, March 20, 2018. His previous execution date in 2014 was stayed by the Missouri Supreme Court because of his rare health condition that could cause him great pain during the execution process.

Sign this petition to ask Governor Greitens to show mercy and spare Russell a painful, gruesome death.

Russell's medical condition, cavernous hemangioma, causes weakened and malformed blood vessels. During the execution process, tumors in his nose and throat could rupture and bleed.

The U.S. Supreme Court already found his medical condition reason to stay his execution in 2014. Today, Russell continues to suffer from this same condition. Carrying out this death sentence would be inhumane, especially in the context of many other recent botched executions around the country.

Death is Not Justice: Conversations with Two Death Row Exonerees

Reggie Griffin spent 23 years on death row and Joe Amrine spent 17 years for crimes they did not commit. Both men were exonerated only after losing decades fighting to prove their innocence. Their cases demonstrate how Missouri's broken death penalty is steeped in issues of prosecutorial misconduct, deficiency in defense and counsel, and racial disparities in representation and sentencing.

Reggie and Joe are available to speak about their experiences, joined by Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. We will explore how our justice system, especially our responses to violence, fails to heal communities and how we need a response to crime that does not perpetuate the cycle of violence.

To book an event, contact us at info@madpmo.org

Execution Stayed for Marcellus Williams | STAY ENGAGED

Marcellus Williams was scheduled to be executed on Tuesday, August 22, 2017. The Missouri Supreme Court had previously stayed his execution in 2015 to review DNA evidence, but then refused to hear the results of the DNA testing just a week before his August execution date. We believe Marcellus is innocent. The DNA evidence does not match him.

After our petition gathered more than 271,000 signatures, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens stayed his execution Tuesday afternoon to appoint a board of inquiry to further examine the case, including DNA evidence that was not previously heard in court. The board of five retired judges will have subpoena power and will inform Gov. Greitens' ultimate decision - read about it here.

We commend the governor's decision and will continue to watch this case for updates.

Read our full update here.

Learn More About Racial Injustice and Missouri's Death Penalty

Are executions America's modern-day lynching?

"People of color in the United States, particularly young black men, are often assumed to be guilty and dangerous. In too many situations, black men are considered offenders incapable of being victims themselves. As a consequence of this country’s failure to address effectively its legacy of racial inequality, this presumption of guilt and the history that created it have significantly shaped every institution in American society, especially our criminal justice system." - Bryan Stevenson in A Presumption of Guilt.

Lynching in America: An Interactive Map of Missouri's 60 lynchings.

Missouri Lynching Map


The developments of 2017 demonstrate the pivotal role that MADP plays in preventing the state from taking life.

We end 2017 with some remarkable accomplishments. Read more here.

Your partnership is vital to our mission. Your generosity and support enable us to accomplish the work we have before us. Support us here.

ORDER Voices from the Edge

Voices from the Edge: The Impact of Missouri's Death Penalty on Victims, Correctional Staff & Families of the Executed is available now.

Order your copy to read MADP Victim Outreach Specialist Kate Siska's compilation of interviews with people directly impacted by the death penalty by clicking here.

These powerful testimonies remind us of the human cost of Missouri's broken death penalty.

Voices from the Edge cover


WATCH an MADP exclusive: Death row exonerees Reggie Griffin and Joe Amrine talk to Sister Helen Prejean about their experiences as men of color subjected to the death penalty. Reggie spent 23 years on death row before the Missouri Supreme Court overturned his sentence because prosecutors had withheld critical evidence -- that a sharpened screwdriver had been confiscated from another inmate. Joe spent 17 years on death row before his sentence was overturned as there was never physical evidence linking him to the crime -- rather, prosecutors had relied on the testimonies of fellow inmates who later recanted and admitted they had lied. Read more about Reggie, Joe, and other exonerees' cases on our Innocence page: http://www.madpmo.org/innocence/

Does the death penalty deter crime? No.

There is no credible information with the last 50 years of research indicating that the death penalty deters violent crime. In 2013, murder rates were 23% lower in states without the death penalty. The Death Penalty Information Center says: "The last decade of reports from the FBI indicates states without the death penalty have lower murder rates than states with the death penalty."

Does the death penalty save money? No, it costs more.

Legal costs, pre-trial costs, jury selection, trial, incarceration, appeals, retrial costs make the death penalty expensive. A 2014 nonpartisan study by the Kansas Legislature found that death penalty cases cost 3-4 times more than similar cases where the death penalty is not sought.

Are innocent people convicted? YES: MISTAKES HAPPEN.

Exculpatory DNA has overturned hundreds of wrongful convictions.Since 1973, there have been 157 individuals in the U.S. sentenced to death and later exonerated. Four of these exonerations occurred in Missouri.

Racial Injustice in Application of Missouri's Death Penalty

Between 1976 and 2014, the state of Missouri executed 80 men. Eighty-one percent of these men were executed for the murder of White victims. This is striking given that 60 percent of all homicide victims in Missouri are Black. White women represent just 12 percent of all homicide victims, but constitute 37 percent of the victims in execution cases. Black men, by contrast, represent 52 percent of all homicide victims, but just 12 percent of the individuals who were executed were convicted of killing Black men.

  • Homicides involving White victims are seven times more likely to result in an execution than those involving Black victims.
  • Homicides involving White female victims are nearly 14 times more likely to result in an execution than those involving Black male victims.
  • Eighty-one percent of the individuals executed in Missouri were convicted of killing White victims even though White victims are less than 40% of all murder victims in the state.
  • Even though the vast majority of murders involve an offender and victim(s) of the same race, 54% of the African-American men executed by Missouri were convicted of crimes involving White victims.