OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An Oklahoma representative has filed legislation that would abolish the death penalty in the Sooner State.
On Tuesday, Rep. Jason Dunnington filed House Bill 2876, which would remove the death penalty from the table when it comes to sentencing for capital cases.
“I’m proud to be a part of the important progress we’ve made toward criminal justice reform,” said Dunnington. “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 says that for every 10 inmates executed on death row in the United States since 1976, one inmate has been exonerated.
In addition to executing innocent people, Dunnington says funding is another issue with the death penalty.
Dunnington claims that the taxpayers’ cost of incarceration for death row inmates is more than twice that of inmates with life sentences.
The measure is supported by The Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City.
“This is a bold proposal that addresses the disturbing realities and inequity of capital punishment,” Coakley said. “We don’t end the cycle of violence by committing more violence. In all of these crimes, we lost a life, and the death penalty only serves to further devalue human dignity. When available, we should choose non-lethal ways to ensure justice and protect society.”
Dunnington says that there is no evidence to support that the death penalty is an effective crime deterrent.
“This is neither a partisan nor an ideological proposal,” Dunnington said. “The profound problems with the death penalty are a concern for all Oklahomans, indeed for all Americans. That is why Republicans and Democrats from Alabama to Oregon are increasingly embracing the call for a repeal of the death penalty.”
The measure will be assigned for a committee hearing in February.
Attorney General Mike Hunter told News 4 in March that he was close to getting a nitrogen gas mask – the new method announced in March 2018.
“Manufacturers are concerned that there’s going to be a negative reaction,” Hunter said.
In September 2015, Oklahoma’s long history of executions unraveled when the execution of two inmates made headlines worldwide because officials had the wrong drugs.
Executions remain on hold to this day.