NAACP Calls on Missouri Governor to Take Stand against Death Penalty on Last Day in Office
Inconsistencies Mark Case of Death Row Prisoner Marcellus Williams
BALTIMORE (June 1, 2018)—The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the nation’s premier civil rights organization issued a letter to Missouri Governor Eric Greitens requesting the commutation of the death sentence for Marcellus Williams.
In a letter issued today to the governor whose resignation will be final today at 5 PM Central Time, NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said:
“I am writing to respectfully request that you commute the death sentence of Marcellus Williams. Last August you took the courageous step to stay Mr. William’s execution, and I ask that you make this decision permanent before leaving office tomorrow. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has long been opposed to the death penalty in any case because it is a cruel, inhumane, and unnecessary punishment that has been applied in a racially disparate manner. However, above and beyond these general problems, there are compelling reasons to spare Mr. William’s life.”
The NAACP President cited a number of reasons including the NAACP’s long opposition to use of the death penalty; DNA evidence showing that the DNA on the murder weapon does not match Mr. Williams. The NAACP also cited the data regarding the disparate treatment and racial inequality in the use and application of the death penalty against African Americans as well as belief that Mr. Williams was denied proper representation.
“Several studies have shown that the death penalty is more likely to be imposed when the victim is white. (See the NAACP’s Death Penalty Fact Sheet, http://www.naacp.org/latest/naacp-death-penalty-fact-sheet) In addition, racial discrimination in jury selection continues to occur in spite of court decisions forbidding the practice,” said NAACP President Derrick Johnson.
Some facts on racial disparities in the use of the death penalty in Missouri:
- When homicides involve white victims, a defendant is 7 times more likely to be executed than if the homicide involved an African-American victim. Homicides of white female victims are 14 times more likely to lead to executions compared to homicides of African-American male victims. https://www.unc.edu/~fbaum/articles/MissouriExecutions-2015.pdf
- While African Americans make up 11% of Missouri’s population, they make up 33% of Missouri’s death row (8 out of 24).
- Like Marcellus Williams, almost half those on death row in Missouri are from St. Louis County and of those; most were convicted by all-white juries.
The NAACP is putting its national support behind the push by its Missouri State Conference and state units to push the governor to act before he leaves office today at 5 PM Central Standard Time.
For a copy of the letter: Click Here to read Marcellus Willams’ Request for Commutation.