We end 2017 with some remarkable accomplishments:
Stay of Execution for Marcellus Williams. On August 22, 2017, the state of Missouri was preparing to execute a man we believe to be innocent. His DNA does not match any evidence at the scene of the crime. MADP worked closely with our constituents, NAACP and the larger public through a Change.org petition to generate over 270,000 signatures asking Republican Gov. Greitens to stay the execution. We hand delivered our petition at noon on the day of the scheduled execution. At 1:30 pm, we received a call from the Governor’s counsel indicating that Greitens had issued a stay to convene a Board of Inquiry into the case. The Governor cited the “voices of the community” in deciding to pause the process. Your voice matters. Because of your support, MADP could generate local, national, and international media attention and mobilize the power of grassroots social media and individual action to push for the stay, highlighting the lack of physical evidence; a conviction based on questionable jailhouse snitch testimony, and the removal of six African-Americans from Marcellus’ jury. Endless contacts from people like you helped stop an execution.
Hung Jury in Prominent Capital Case—Springfield, MO. In November, the jury in the case involving the tragic death of Hailey Owens deadlocked, with two jurors voting for life in imprisonment without parole. We worked closely with the community in raising up the voice of Stacey Herman, Hailey’s mother, who sought to avoid the horrors of trial, and endless appeals, by requesting that the prosecutor accept the defendant’s guilty plea for life without parole.
Empowering the Voices of Murder Victim Family Members—Stacey Herman & Hailey’s Law. Stacey Herman has a profound desire to see Hailey’s Law become reality. The bill is meant to speed up the Amber Alert system, something that both Stacey and the family of the perpetrator believe would have saved Hailey. We supported lobbying efforts to improve the Amber Alert system, and facilitated conversations between both families. The bill passed Missouri’s House by a vote of 141-1. The sponsor plans to prefile the bill in the coming legislative session.
Changing Hearts & Minds—Lindy Lou…The Pebbles of Change. The death penalty will end when our communities reject it. By sharing films like Lindy Lou Juror No 2, which examines a woman’s decision to impose a death sentence and then deep questioning of that experience, and holding educational events with two exonerees from Missouri’s death row, we are changing hearts and minds.
No Jury has Returned a Capital Verdict in Missouri since 2013: This year alone, juries returned life over death for Mark Gill and Ulysses Jones.
Why your investment is critical
MADP believes we can achieve abolition county by county. Historically, fewer than 3% of our counties account for the majority of our executions. By focusing our prevention work on areas with overzealous prosecutors and working to raise up unusual voices who object to capital punishment, we can move forward and achieve real change. Our work demonstrates this.
But we still have work to do. Just before Thanksgiving, the Missouri Supreme Court scheduled an execution for Russell Bucklew for March 20, 2018. Russell has a rare health condition that could cause him great pain during the execution process – his lawyers have even asked for an execution by shooting squad as an alternative.
We need your voice added to our petition asking Gov. Greitens to show mercy and #SpareRussell a painful, gruesome death here: https://www.change.org/p/eric-greitens-spare-russell-bucklew.
MADP continues to fight Missouri’s broken death penalty through endless community education events, victim outreach, and policy work. Missouri juries are increasingly reluctant to choose death when life is always an option, and we had juries decide against death for Mark Gill, Ulysses Jones, Marvin Rice, and Craig Wood just this year. We also coordinate a pen pal program and continue our work in amplifying victims’ voices. Our Voices Project can be found at http://www.madpmo.org/voices.
As an organization with big ideas and a transformative vision for social change, MADP seeks to raise $25,000 by the end of 2017 to advance our efforts on behalf of all Missourians who oppose the death penalty. We rely on your generosity to educate key constituencies, run advocacy programs, and petition for change with elected officials at all levels.
$25,000 funds a clemency campaign to prevent the execution of individuals like Marcellus Williams.
$10,000 funds legislative efforts to support victims’ families, and restrict the use of the death penalty.
$5,000 funds our pen-pal program, so men on death row can know that we care.
$2,500 funds exoneree education events.
Your partnership is vital to our mission. Your generosity and support enables us to accomplish the important work we have before us. You make change happen, and we ask you to financially partner with us as we step into a new year.
With gratitude and warm wishes for a happy holiday season,
Staci Pratt Executive Director, Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
Support MADP by making a year-end, tax-deductible donation by December 31, 2017. Visit www.madpmo.org/donate to make a secure gift today.