January 12, 2015, Kansas City, MO….Today Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (MADP) announces the hiring of Staci Pratt, as State Coordinator for the organization. Ms. Pratt comes onboard after a year in which Missouri executed ten individuals and has already set dates for two individuals in 2015.
“In 2014 Missouri experienced a year of unprecedented executions and controversy surrounding the use of the death penalty ,” noted Rita Linhardt, chair of MADP’s board of directors. “These tragic events necessitated the need for MADP to hire a full time state coordinator to address the on-going challenges facing our state. We are delighted to have someone with Ms. Pratt’s background and skills, leading our organization.”
Ms. Pratt most recently acted as the Legal Director for the ACLU of Nevada, where she visited prisoners throughout the state and litigated issues relating to conditions of confinement. Her advocacy ensured that pregnant female inmates no longer need endure leg shackles while undergoing childbirth. Public education, coalition building and outreach efforts formed the backbone of her work there.
Similarly, her lobbying activity resulted in significant policy changes. Her testimony and written comments before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, surrounding a psychiatric hospital’s practice of dumping homeless mentally ill patients across state lines via Greyhound bus, gave rise to the adoption of specific recommendations for strengthening EMTALA mandates.
“As an attorney and advocate, who has spent much of her career seeking to ensure the fair administration of justice, I felt called to join the battle in Missouri,” Ms. Pratt observed. Nationwide, just three states, Missouri (with 10), Texas (with 10) and Florida (with 8) accounted for 80% of the country’s executions in 2014. “My children were born in Kansas City, and I hope to raise them in a culture that stands for integrity. Not brutality. Not racially jaundiced results. Not a rush to execution. As native Missourians, they have the right to expect much from our State.”
In 2015, MADP will be working to slow down the number of executions in our state, seeking ultimate repeal of the death penalty. “Together, we can create a state that is recognized for its willingness to engage in dialogue and to correct the failings of our criminal justice system. It is my goal for our state to stand out for that quality, rather than its willingness to blindly embrace an anti-life culture,” Ms. Pratt concluded.
One of Ms. Pratt’s first tasks wias to help organize a Jan. 21 Moratorium Now! press conference/lobby event at the State Capitol introducing legislation that will call for a moratorium on executions while legislative measures are put in place to ensure the fairness and accuracy of Missouri’s criminal justice system. This legislation is based on the 2012 Missouri Death Penalty Assessment Report in which a distinguished panel of Missouri judges, former prosecutors and defense attorneys observed weaknesses in Missouri’s approach to the death penalty that could lead to the execution of an innocent person.