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Oklahoma executions set to resume in August

The gurney in the the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla.
The gurney in the the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla.

States and the federal government carried out 11 executions in 2021, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Oklahoma could come close to matching that in 12 months under an ambitious execution schedule set Friday by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. Attorney General John O’Connor requested the dates on June 10, days after a federal judge affirmed the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s execution protocol.

Beginning Aug. 25, the state plans to conduct an execution by lethal injection approximately once every four weeks through 2024. There are five executions scheduled for 2022 and 10 each in 2023 and 2024.

In the June 10 request, O’Connor wrote that he consulted with the Department of Corrections and Pardon and Parole Board and all parties agreed the schedule was doable. The Pardon and Parole Board plans to hold a clemency hearing monthly at the start of its regular meeting.

Unlike some Republican-led states, including Utah and Ohio, Oklahoma has not considered legislation to abolish the death penalty. The outcome of one high-profile case could change that.

Death row prisoner Richard Glossip, who claims innocence in the 1997 murder of Oklahoma City motel manager Barry Van Treese, is set to be executed on Sept. 22. A bipartisan group of 34 state lawmakers signed a letter in June 2021 requesting an external examination of Glossip’s case.

State Rep. Kevin McDugle, R-Broken Arrow, said during a June 15 press conference that he will “fight to abolish the death penalty” in Oklahoma if Glossip is executed because “the process isn’t pure.”

Oklahoma Watch, at oklahomawatch.org, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that covers public-policy issues facing the state.

Oklahoma Watch is a non-profit organization that produces in-depth and investigative journalism on important public-policy issues facing the state. Oklahoma Watch is non-partisan and strives to be balanced, fair, accurate and comprehensive. The reporting project collaborates on occasion with other news outlets. Topics of particular interest include poverty, education, health care, the young and the old, and the disadvantaged.
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