It happened again. Last night, the state of Missouri put to death Earl Ringo, Jr., despite concerns about the role that race played in determining his death sentence and despite an outpouring of pleas to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon from people of faith, civil rights leaders and activists to halt the execution. This execution, like so many others, took place under a cloud of secrecy with Department of Corrections officials dissembling about when and whether they were using or would use Midazolam, the drug that has been at the center of controversy in the recent spate of botched and horrific executions.
I learned for the first time last Wednesday that DOC officials in Missouri administer Midazolam to prisoners before the execution actually “begins.” They claim that this procedure is consistent with the practice of offering the condemned prisoner a sedative to calm nerves before the execution.
But lawyers for Earl Ringo point out that Midazolam is not the drug normally prescribed as a sedative for nerves and the amount administered prior to the start of an execution is far more than the dosage that would be consistent with a simple ‘calming effect.’
It’s sophistry at best and government at its worst.
We are disappointed that Governor Nixon did not take full responsibility for ensuring that the death penalty system in Missouri operates in a manner that is free of racial bias and discrimination, and that Earl Ringo’s death sentence in particular was not the product of racial bias.
But here is what we are proud of: We are proud of and grateful for the legal team that was courageous, resourceful and compassionate in their efforts to save Mr. Ringo’s life.
We are proud of Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and our allies in the NAACP, ACLU of Missouri, the Catholic Conference and others, and hundreds of volunteers who wrote letters, called, worked and prayed, and organized vigils to make their concerns known to Governor Nixon.
We are proud of the national coalition of organizations and leaders that came together to send a joint statement to Governor Nixon urging him to be reasonable and not go forward with this execution, given so many unanswered questions concerning the racial bias in his case.
We joined with the NAACP, the National Action Network, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, The Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Racial Justice, Hip Hop Caucus, Dr. Virgil Wood, and Reverend McBride, Director of Urban Strategies, Live Free Campaign, PICO National Network.
Unfortunately, Governor Nixon did not heed our request. We do believe in accountability.
Please contact Governor Nixon to express your deep disappointment with his failure to stop Earl Ringo’s execution. Ask him to halt all executions from now on.
Act with us. We are 90 Million Strong!
p.s. Texas is set to execute Willie Trottie later today. Please contact your friends and families in Texas and urge them to make their voices hear