Washington, DC - 10/28/14 — Today, Diann Rust-Tierney, Executive Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, issued the following statement on Missouri’s scheduled execution of Mark Christeson:
“Disability advocates, federal judges and people of faith are coming together today to plead with Governor Nixon to spare the life of Mark Christeson, who embodies all that’s wrong with a system that allows the state to take a life. Mark Christeson, an intellectually disabled man who suffered a lifetime of poverty, abuse and neglect, also suffered at the hands of our legal system. The gross mishandling of his case—with lawyers missing appeals deadlines and deceiving him about the status of its proceedings—meant Christeson was not only sentenced to death, but wasn’t even afforded his legal right to a federal review of his case where he could raise concerns about the fairness of his trial and to ask the Court to spare his life.
“Christeson’s case is a prime example of our flawed criminal justice system– and those who administer justice agree. Yesterday, 17 former federal judges submitted an amicus brief with the Supreme Court writing, ‘The lower courts’ rulings in this case undermine amici’s interest in a fair criminal justice system.’
Unfortunately, Mark Christeson’s case isn’t an exception, but the rule in a system where justice is unevenly applied based on race, class and mental disability. On behalf of the 90 million Americans who oppose the death penalty, we ask that the state of Missouri not only spare Mark Christeson’s life, but halt all executions, once and for all.”
The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is the nation's oldest organization dedicated to the abolition of the death penalty. We are comprised of an extensive network representing more than 100 state and national affiliate organizations and thousands of advocates and volunteers. Our members include families of murder victims, people across the political and religious spectrum, past and present law enforcement officials and prominent civil and racial justice organizations working to end the death penalty forever.
In January 2014, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty launched the 90 Million Strong Campaign to partner with and mobilize a growing number of national organizations and individuals who believe that it is time for the death penalty to end.