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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: The Death Penalty Remains Popular in Oklahoma

     The botched execution of Clayton Lockett in April 2014 and other troubling executions in Ohio and Arizona gave capital punishment opponents a flicker of hope that areas of the country that most enthusiastically support the death penalty might have a change of heart. They didn't.

     Although Governor Mary Fallin suspended further executions so that Lockett's death and Oklahoma's methods could be reviewed, the state held what amounted to a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its overhauled death chamber only months later and is scheduled to resume killing inmates in mid-January 2015. And rather than causing states to question whether capital punishment is just or worth the risk of subjecting someone to a potentially agonizing death, the prolonged executions and problems states have had securing lethal injection drugs have led them to explore new and more efficient ways of killing, including gassing inmates…

     Lockett's execution did little or nothing to dampen support for the death penalty in deeply conservative Oklahoma which has killed more inmates than any other state except Texas since the 1976 reinstatement of the death penalty. In October 2014, officials gave media tours of the renovated execution unit at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, which got a $104,000 overhaul after Lockett's death and now stands in sharp contrast to the rest of the shabby, 106-year-old facility.

     Not content with just the upgrades to the prison and lethal injection equipment, though, Oklahoma's House of Representatives conducted a study on the use of nitrogen gas to execute inmates and is expected to consider legislation early next year that would make Oklahoma the first state to adopt hypoxia by gas--the forced deprivation of oxygen--as a legal execution method…

     Tennessee passed a law in 2014 to reinstate the electric chair if it can't get lethal injection drugs and Utah is considering bringing back the firing squad.

     Oklahoma has executed 194 inmates since achieving statehood in 1907, including one by hanging, 82 by electrocution and 111 by lethal injection….

Sean Murphy, "Death Penalty States Unmoved by Botched Execution," Associated Press, December 27, 2014 

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