Joint Statement from the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and Missourians Against the Death Penalty
The execution of John Winfield is scheduled for shortly after midnight tonight. A panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has granted Mr. Winfield a stay of execution, however, the state of Missouri is appealing for a decision by the full court. In addition to the appeals process, Mr. Winfield’s lawyers, along with a diverse coalition of voices, including the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, are calling on Governor Nixon to grant Mr. Winfield clemency.
“It’s time to put the death penalty behind us,” stated Diann Rust-Tierney, Executive Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. “This case has all the reasons why we don’t need to have the death penalty. The death penalty leaves no room for redemption and rehabilitation. By all accounts, this case is a great example of the power of redemption, which makes it even more disturbing that the state is proposing to execute this man under public secrecy—a scenario that we know has led to terrible results.”
“Mr. Winfield must be held accountable for the harm that he did, however, while incarcerated, he is currently engaged in activities that have a positive benefit for others,” commented Rita Linhardt, Chair of Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. “If Governor Nixon were to commute Mr. Winfield’s sentence, he could continue to serve as a positive mentor and aid to younger inmates who will re-enter communities after their sentences are served.”
Also joining in the call for clemency are: John Winfield’s 22-year-old daughter, a corrections officer who has worked closely with Mr. Winfield during his time of incarceration, a former juror, and his trial attorney who has testified Winfield’s defense was impeded by trouble between he and his co-counsel.
Governor Nixon has the opportunity to do the right thing and chose a course that will move Missouri in the direction of having a criminal justice system that holds the guilty accountable for their actions and protects our communities while also recognizing the possibility of reform and the positive influence that offenders are capable of.