By Lauren Sobchak
Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty is a state-wide nonprofit organization working to abolish the death penalty in Missouri. We have chapters in Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbia, and Springfield. MADP is focused on several bills at the state capital that would reform death penalty sentencing related to severe mental illness, judicial override, and total abolition. More information about our legislative priorities can be found at www.madpmo.org.
In addition to working on legislation, MADP works on individual clemency campaigns for those sentenced to death in Missouri. Recently, the state of Missouri issued an execution warrant for Walter “Arkie” Barton. He was sentenced to death for killing a mobile home park operator, Gladys Kuehler, in the town of Ozark in 1991. His attorney is basing the clemency appeal on two grounds: an innocence claim, and lack of competence to be executed. His execution is set for May 19.
You can help by asking Governor Parson to grant clemency.
To sign the petition and learn more about Barton’s case, please visit http://chng.it/FPmbkGVPdk. The MADP background information includes recognition that Barton was at the scene of the crime as a friend of the family of the victim, and it is likely he did not commit the crime. Three of four witnesses testifying against him have withdrawn their statements.
State governments are not perfect, and because of this, innocent people are convicted and some even executed by the state. A statement from Barton’s attorney says, “The state of Missouri is about to prove why the death penalty should not be used because they are about to execute an innocent man.” Many Missourians do not support the death penalty, especially under the circumstances of innocence.
—Lauren Sobchak is an organizer for Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.