Oklahoma bishops issue statement on state’s request for execution dates

In response to Oklahoma attorney general John O’Connor’s recent request of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to set seven execution dates, the state’s Catholic bishops issued the following statement:

“We are disappointed and surprised by the state’s haste to set execution dates for six men on death row at the same time a federal court is reviewing Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol to determine if it is constitutional. This decision also may preempt and void a commutation hearing already set by the state for one of the men, Julius Jones.

It is important for us to support survivors and victims’ families who have been devastated by these crimes.

But we have other means to exact justice and protect our communities without the use of capital punishment. We know from DNA evidence that many people have been sentenced to death who are later exonerated. Historically there have been biases and arbitrariness in the application of the death penalty.

It also costs nine times more to execute a prisoner than to impose life imprisonment. Ultimately, capital punishment denies the opportunity for repentance and diminishes the dignity of all human life.”

-Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop David A. Konderla of Tulsa