Oklahoma’s Love Affair with the Death Penalty
The state of Oklahoma seems to be infatuated with the death penalty. We don’t have the most executions on record, but we’re close. Since 1976, our neighbors to the south have executed the most people, and Oklahoma has executed the second most.
However, Oklahoma has more executions per capita than any other state in America. We also were the first state to officially adopt lethal injection as the preferred means of execution.
Taking a Breather
Furman v. Georgia was a Supreme Court case in 1972 that put the breaks on the death penalty. This temporary break came to an end in 1976 with Gregg v. Georgia. Prior to the Furman break, James French was put to death by the electric chair in 1966.
Back in the Saddle
Since Gregg v. Georgia, Oklahoma has executed 112 people. With all this experience you would think the state would be death penalty experts. However, in 2014 the state was forced to put a stop to all scheduled executions.
On April 29, 2014, Clayton Lockett was put to death by lethal injection. His execution took a staggering 43 minutes because the doctor failed to properly inject the lethal IV almost 12 times.
Charles Warner was scheduled to be executed soon after Lockett, but his execution was delayed after Lockett’s disastrous execution. Warner was eventually executed on January 15, 2015. During his execution he cried out saying, “my body is on fire.” Since Warner and Lockett’s executions the state has launched numerous investigations and proposed several changes to the process.
No one has been executed since Warner, although one person got close. Richard Glossip was set to be the next executed person after Warner. Due to a Supreme Court battle over the lethal cocktail used for executions and questions about his innocence, Glossip has been granted three stay of executions. He now sits on death row, with no execution date set.