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Two Death Row Exonerees and Missouri’s Death Penalty

Events this month: Reggie Griffin spent 23 years and Joe Amrine spent 17 years on death row 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.

This month in Missouri, join us at our events, Two Death Row Exonerees: Death is Not Justice, a Conversation as Reggie, Joe, and MADP 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. Join us on Sunday, January 7 in St. Louis or Saturday, January 13 in Kansas City.  We’ll have another event in St. Louis towards the end of January as well – keep an eye on our Facebook for events updates.

The latest on Missouri’s death penalty: read how Former prosecutor Joyce had a role in Clemons ordeal to get a sense of misconduct and decisions from prosecutors’ offices can, especially over the course of decades, have a huge impact on a death penalty case and on an entire community.  You can read the reports referenced in the piece from the Fair Punishment Project on prosecutorial misconduct here and on America’s deadliest prosecutors here. Also, how a New Generation of Prosecutors May Signal Shift in Death Penalty Policies across the country.

EXECUTION SCHEDULED: Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, the Missouri Supreme Court scheduled an execution for Russell Bucklew for March 20, 2018. Previously in 2014, the United States Supreme Court stayed Russell’s execution because of concerns that his medical condition could cause him great pain during the execution process – his lawyers have even asked for an execution by firing 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.

Judicial override undermines juries: Marvin Rice was sentenced to death by a St. Charles County judge in October, even though 11 out of 12 jurors wanted life for him. This was the first new death sentence in Missouri in four years.  Rice’s sentence has raised questions about judicial override in Missouri and its constitutionality under the Sixth Amendment. Missouri and Indiana are the only two states in which a judge can give a death sentence if a jury deadlocks. Most states with the death penalty follow the federal procedure of an automatic sentence of life in prison if a jury cannot reach a unanimous decision. Read more here.

Looking back on 2017: The developments of the last year demonstrate the pivotal role that Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (MADP) plays in preventing the state from taking life. Please consider supporting our mission here. Our 2017 annual report will be out at the end of this week – keep checking our website!

Death Penalty Information Center’s 2017 Year End Report found that nationally, death sentences and executions were at their second lowest in a quarter century and that public support for the death penalty has reached a 45-year low.

Our Voices project is still in stock – buy it directly from us hereVoices from the Edge: The Impact of Missouri’s Death Penalty on Victims, Correctional Staff & Families of the Executed is a collection of powerful testimonies of people directly impacted by the death penalty, including the family members of murder victims, correctional staff, and families of the executed and exonerated. Each person’s experience demonstrates the complicated, devastating impact that Missouri’s death penalty has on real people.

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