Webster Associate Professor Joins Community Coalition for Clemency

Oct. 31, 2014

Webster Associate Professor Joins Community Coalition for Clemency

ST. LOUIS, October 31, 2014 – Members of the Community Coalition for Clemency held a press conference on the morning of Tuesday Oct. 28 to ask Governor Jay Nixon to commute the sentences of 14 women who are incarcerated in Missouri prisons. Most of the women are victims of domestic abuse, with some having spent more than 30 years behind bars.

Anne Geraghty-Rathert, associate professor of Legal Studies and Chair of Women and Gender Studies, is a member of the recently-formed coalition, along with several other members of Webster’s community.

She was there to request clemency for three of her clients.

“All of these women suffered extreme mental, physical and sexual violence from family members throughout their lives, and were incarcerated because of that violence,” said Geraghty-Rathert. “Society has turned their backs on these women; they have slipped through the cracks their entire lives and we are here to give them a voice.”

Geraghty-Rathert is a practicing attorney and works with The WILLOW Project, a non-profit organization which provides legal assistance to women who cannot fully access the justice system due to poverty, oppression, exploitation and other injustices. Geraghty-Rathert is on the board for the non-profit along with Robin Jefferson Higgins, the Chair of the legal studies department and Eileen McManmon, coordinator in the legal studies department.

The power of clemency is granted to the governor in the Missouri Constitution. Its purpose is to allow for the show of mercyClemency Coalitionand to correct injustices in the criminal justice system. Governor Jay Nixon has until the end of his term to grant clemency to the 14 women that the Coalition named.

Clemency Case Requests

Geraghty-Rathert requested clemency for: 

  • Angel Charlene Stewart, held captive as a teenager in the sex trafficking trade, who was taken along with her one-year-old child on a crime spree, in which her two captors brutally murdered two elderly women.  Threatened with the death penalty, and with the mental capacity of a 10-year-old child herself, she took a plea to life in prison.
  • Amelia Bird, who was sexually and physically abused throughout her life by her father and brother. Her violent boyfriend took it upon himself to enter her parents’ home and shoot them both while Amelia was sleeping. Charged with first-degree murder and threatened with the death penalty, Amelia took the plea at age 16 to life in prison.
  • Amanda Busse who lived in a household ruled by illegal drugs and abuse perpetrated by her father. At the age of 17, her father sold Amanda to his 36-year-old friend and fellow drug addict, a man who was feared not only by Amanda, but also by the entire community. Amanda’s father and this man were charged with murder of a mentally disabled woman in the neighborhood.  Despite the fact that Amanda was not present for the murder nor suspected for seven years, nine prosecutors later and with a defense that lasted three minutes at trial, Amanda was found guilty and sentenced to 25 years for second degree murder.

The Community Coalition for Clemency has several members from the Webster University community including: 

  • Former Missouri Governor Bob Holden, Webster University faculty member
  • Shane Kincaid, 2013 Webster University alumnae
  • Amy Lorenz-Moser, 1997 Webster University alumnae
  • Eileen McManmon, 2013 graduate of Webster University and Legal Studies Department Coordinator
  • Traci Scott, 2012 Webster University alumnae
  • Linda Wynns, former Legal Studies Department Coordinator

A statement released by the Coalition said, “October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and this new organization is raising awareness that domestic violence can lead women to kill their abusers because it is the only way they can protect their children and themselves.”

More information on the Community Coalition for Clemency can be found on the organization’s Facebook page