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July 3, 2022

Will Oklahoma carry out over two dozen executions over the next couple years?

The question in the title of this post is prompted by this new Washington Post article headlined "Oklahoma plans to execute an inmate nearly every month until 2025." Here are some of the details:

Oklahoma plans to execute 25 prisoners in the next 29 months after ending a moratorium spurred by botched lethal injections and legal battles over how it kills death row inmates.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on Friday set the execution dates for six prisoners in response to a request by Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor (R) in mid-June. The court later added dates for an additional 19 prisoners for a total representing more than half of the state’s 44-person death row population.

After a federal judge in Oklahoma ruled in early June that the state’s three-drug lethal-injection protocol was constitutional, O’Connor made his request, saying in filings that the prisoners had exhausted their criminal appeals. O’Connor argued for imminent execution dates as a matter of justice for the family members of those who were killed. In a statement, O’Connor noted that the earliest kill by a prisoner on Oklahoma’s death row was committed in 1993.

The first execution is scheduled for Aug. 25, with subsequent executions scheduled for about once every four weeks through 2024. In Oklahoma, prisoners are automatically granted a clemency hearing within 21 days of their scheduled execution, at which point the state’s pardon and parole board can recommend the governor grant a prisoner a reprieve from death row.

The scheduled flurry of executions is expected to draw Oklahoma back into familiar territory: the center of the nation’s death penalty debate....

Several of the Oklahoma prisoners scheduled for execution have strong innocence claims, histories of intellectual disability that should disqualify them for the death penalty or whose cases have claims of racial bias, their lawyers say.

Among them is Richard Glossip, whose 2015 case against the state’s lethal injection protocol went before the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in the state’s favor. His assertion of innocence has not only made him one of the more high-profile death row cases in the United States but has also won him support from Republican lawmakers in the state who object to his execution, scheduled for September.

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July 3, 2022 at 01:58 PM | Permalink


Unfortunately, this is the logical consequence of the end of a moratorium. While the moratorium on actually carrying out an execution was in place, offenders exhausted their appeal and habeas process leaving a large number of individuals on the "need an execution date" list. And to avoid adding any delay for future cases, you need an expedited schedule to clear out that list. We went through a similar process in Missouri in 2013 when our moratorium ended with 18 executions in 22 months.

Posted by: tmm | Jul 6, 2022 1:56:38 PM

tmm --

Yes, that's how it works. When you artificially dam up the normal flow of X, then, when the dam is opened, you get a faster-than-normal flow of X because of what has been pent up by the dam. For people who don't like this, maybe building the dam wasn't all that good an idea.

P.S. So finally I find out you're in Missouri!

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 7, 2022 10:54:40 AM

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