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5:26 pm
Mon December 14, 2009

Attempt to End Death Penalty in Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, OK – Sen. Constance N. Johnson announced at a state Capitol press conference on Monday her intention to renew efforts to repeal the death penalty in Oklahoma. Johnson said both economic and ethical concerns make this the right time for the state to reopen dialogue on abolishing the death penalty. Oklahoma has executed the third-highest number of prisoners since 1976, when the Supreme Court permitted the death penalty to resume. "Since 1973, 135 death row inmates in the United States have been released from prison after they were determined to be innocent," said Johnson, D-Oklahoma County. "Faced with the understanding that our system of justice is not infallible, we cannot continue allowing the system to be the arbiter of life or death for those charged with crimes in Oklahoma. This is in issue that cuts to the heart of our desire to have a just and sensible government, and it is a moral and ethical responsibility that must weigh heavily on our collective conscience." Johnson added that the high costs of prosecuting death penalty cases and carrying out their final punishment represent another financial drain on a state currently faced with a budget shortfall of up to a billion dollars. In its most recent review of death penalty cases, the state of Kansas concluded that death penalty cases were 70 percent more costly than comparable non-death penalty cases, including the cost of incarceration.

OKLAHOMA CITY - Senate Majority Floor Leader Todd Lamb (R-Edmond) pointed to a fellow Senator's call for the abolishment of the Death Penalty in Oklahoma as clear evidence of one major difference between the two parties when it comes to public safety. "The difference between Republicans and Democrats couldn't be more stark on public safety issues, given the suggestion today by a Democrat State Senator that the state of Oklahoma abolish the death penalty," Lamb said. "We see this severest of penalties as a real deterrent to capitol crimes in our state, and those on the other side of the aisle would prefer to weaken our laws and not hold these violent criminals responsible for their actions." "I can assure the citizens of Oklahoma that as long as we control the majority in the legislature, wild ideas like this will not become law," Lamb continued. "The foremost job of your elected officials is to ensure the safety of all citizens, and we will not relinquish that role to those who would prefer to coddle criminals." Senator Lamb brings impeccable credentials to the debate on public safety. A former United States Secret Service Agent, Lamb also served on the national Joint Terrorism Task Force, and, after the terrorists' attacks, he was assigned to portions of the 9-11 investigation. "I also want to reassure law enforcement officers who stand in the line-of-duty that Senate Republicans are ready to support them as well," Lamb concluded.