In late 2015, The Constitution Project (TCP) convened the Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission to conduct an independent review of the state’s death penalty system, from arrest to execution. The Commission, comprising a bipartisan group of eleven prominent Oklahomans, came together shortly after the state imposed a moratorium on executions while a grand jury investigated troubling departures from the execution protocols of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. On April 25, 2017, the Commission released its comprehensive report (available here).
Due to the volume and seriousness of the flaws in Oklahoma’s capital punishment system, the independent, bipartisan Commission unanimously recommended extending Oklahoma’s current moratorium on executions.
“The Commission did not come to this decision lightly,” said Commission Co-Chair former Governor Brad Henry, of Henry-Adams Companies, LLC. “Many of the findings of the Commission’s investigation were disturbing and led members to question whether the death penalty can be administered in a way that ensures no innocent person is put to death.”
The bipartisan Commission, comprising five women and six men, represents urban and rural communities, as well as prosecutors, defense attorneys, individuals who have served in each of the three branches of government, law school professors and deans, victims’ advocates and Native American advocates. In the course of their work, Commissioners gathered data from state and local government agencies, reviewed scholarly articles, commissioned further research, conducted interviews and heard presentations from those with direct knowledge of how the system operates.
TCP assisted the Commission with its nearly year-and-a-half study by conducting legal research and writing, extensive research in Oklahoma and with Oklahomans on behalf of the Commission, and providing other project support. TCP also coordinated meetings between Commissioners and a number of stakeholders who have been directly involved in death penalty cases, including law enforcement, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, families of murder victims and those wrongfully convicted.
The Commission issued 46 recommendations in its final report. To learn more, visit the Commission website: http://OKDeathPenaltyReview.org/.