On Tuesday, the bipartisan Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission, which has been conducting an in-depth review of the death penalty in the state and across the United States, unanimously recommended a continuation of the state’s current moratorium on executions. The recommendation was one of a list of 40—detailed in a nearly 300-page report that was released by the committee—around the state’s use of the death penalty.
In 2015, Oklahoma set a moratorium on executions in the wake of the state’s botched lethal injections of Clayton Lockett and others. A grand jury which investigated those executions released a report in which it outlined troubling “departures from the execution protocols of the Department of Corrections,” says the commission.
In response, for more than a year, the commission conducted an intensive study of “all aspects of the death penalty, from initial arrest and interrogation through the execution stage,” says a letter from the co-chairs of the commission in its report. The findings were revealing:
Many of the findings of the Commission’s year-long investigation were disturbing and led Commission members to question whether the death penalty can be administered in a way that ensures no innocent person is put to death. . . . Unfortunately, a review of the evidence demonstrates that the death penalty, even in Oklahoma, has not always been imposed and carried out fairly, consistently, and humanely, as required by the federal and state constitutions. . . . It is undeniable that innocent people have been sentenced to death in Oklahoma. And the burden of wrongful convictions alone requires the systemic corrections recommended in this report.
Read the entire report here.