Oklahoma Democrat Introduces Bill to Abolish the Death Penalty

Jan 15, 2020

Credit Oklahoma-DOC

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The death penalty would no longer be a sentencing option in Oklahoma under a bill filed this week by an Oklahoma City Democrat.

Rep. Jason Dunnington filed the bill that would eliminate the death sentence beginning on Nov. 1. It would not apply retroactively to inmates already on death row.

“Oklahomans are becoming more aware of the wasted costs of capital punishment, a system that provides no deterrent to crime while flushing millions down the drain that could be better spent on responses to violence that actually work,” Dunnington said in a statement.

It’s unlikely the bill will pass the Republican-controlled Legislature, but Dunnington says the issue shouldn’t be partisan. The measure already has the support of The Most Rev. Paul Coakley, archbishop of Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma has had one of the busiest death chambers in the country, but hasn’t carried out an execution since January 2015. A state appeals court issued a moratorium on the death penalty later that year after a series of bungled executions and drug mix-ups.

A state commission in 2017 recommended the state keep the moratorium in place until major changes are made.

Oklahoma’s new Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt says he supports the death penalty.