Oklahoma Pushes to Schedule 25 Executions

This is an evolving situation that CMN is monitoring closely.

Catholic Mobilizing Network and the Oklahoma Conference of Catholic Bishops are encouraging Catholic clergy and vowed religious to add their names to a faith leader sign-on letter urging Governor Kevin Stitt to halt the 25 executions from moving forward and ban on all Oklahoma executions. 

This “Catholic Faith Leaders Letter in Opposition to the Use of the Death Penalty in Oklahoma” letter is one of many efforts taking place in the state to protect the lives of the men scheduled to die. Other grassroots efforts include in-person vigils and attendance at scheduled clemency hearings. Those located in Oklahoma are encouraged to get involved in on-the-ground anti-death penalty actions in Oklahoma.*

On August 18, CMN will host an ecumenical webinar with Oklahoma faith leaders about opportunities for all people of faith to raise a collective voice in opposition to Oklahoma’s death penalty. Stay tuned for more details.

Additional ways to stand up against Oklahoma’s pending execution spree include:

*please note, these gatherings are not hosted by CMN

July 1, 2022 | Oklahoma began setting execution dates for 25 people, starting with James A. Coddington on August 25, 2022. Read more >>

June 23, 2022 | A federal judge in Oklahoma recently ruled that the state’s lethal injection protocol was constitutional and fails to meet the standards of cruel and unusual punishment, despite concerns of its effectiveness and safety. 

The ruling opened the door for the state to move forward with up to 28 executions. Without hesitation, Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor requested the death warrants of 25 individuals, outlining a plan to begin executions in August 2022 and continue executing one individual every month for two years.

Archbishop Coakley of the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City responded to the court’s decision saying, “The use of the death penalty only contributes to the continued coarsening of society and to the spiral of violence. Taking another life does not ultimately bring closure and peace to those who have lost a loved one, and it goes against the principle of valuing life.”

The controversial three-drug cocktail currently used in Oklahoma includes a sedative which is meant to render the individual unconscious before the life-ending drugs are administered. Yet there have been several instances in Oklahoma where individuals were not properly sedated before the lethal drugs were given, leaving them unable to move or speak — yet fully conscious — as the poison stopped their hearts. 

Oklahoma paused executions in 2015 after several such instances of these problematic executions. 

Executions resumed in 2021 with the lethal injection of John Grant, who vomited and convulsed repeatedly on the gurney throughout his execution. 

The state leveled that the three executions that have occurred since Grant’s, which went forward without noticeable complications, are evidence enough of the safety and effectiveness of its lethal injection protocol. 

Amid the state’s rush to schedule executions, an independent report on the case of Richard Glossip — the second person slated for lethal injection on O’Connor’s list — revealed information supporting his claim of innocence, which he has long-held since his conviction. 

In response to the Glossip report, Republican Representative Kevin McDugle, who is a vocal supporter of the death penalty, stated that he would personally work for the abolition of capital punishment in Oklahoma should the state move forward with Glossip’s execution.

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