An informal poll taken last week suggests that most Cherokee County residents think the death penalty should not be abolished.
Oklahoma State Rep. Mauree Turner, D-OKC, filed a bill for the 2022 legislative session to create a state question on whether capital punishment should exist in the state.
“What I’m hearing from my district and people across the state is an urgent need to end state-mandated killing in the name of a criminal justice system that seeks to kill people safely. impunity,” Turner said in a press release. “We’ve seen a growing movement, especially in the last year, of people calling on Oklahoma to abolish the death penalty. And I want to give people a chance to express that on the ballot.
Turner added that police officers do not believe the death penalty has a deterrent effect on murder and opinions on the issue are changing.
The state resumed executions in 2021 after a six-year hiatus. John Grant and Bigler Stouffer were put to death soon after, and Donald Grant was executed on Thursday, January 27. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Still granted Julius Jones clemency and halted his execution hours before he was to be put to death in November.
In a Saturday January 22 forum on Facebook, readers of Tahlequah Daily Press were asked about their opinion on the death penalty and whether it should still exist, as some police organizations believe it is more punitive and less of a deterrent. .
Ray Kirk said there were no repeat offenders sentenced to death and it was time to start thinking about the victims.
Jack Webb thinks the death penalty is not really a deterrent to him, because it’s been around since the founding of the nation.
“But over the years we have managed to kill innocent people,” he said. “Once they’re dead, you can’t tell, ‘[Oops] we made a mistake. But prison life leaves that door open.
Will Carpenter said there can be no capital punishment in a broken system and too many mistakes have been made.
“At least when someone is wrongfully imprisoned, they can be released,” Carpenter said.
District 27 District Attorney Jack Thorp is a strong supporter of capital punishment, and he said there should always be an option for juries — at least, in some cases — when evaluating sentence for first degree murder.
“I think it would be terrible for victims not to have that option, for someone who killed a family member or a friend,” Thorp said. “The decision whether or not to seek the death penalty is a solemn decision, and I have often had to make it.”
Thorp goes over the pros and cons when he meets with the victims’ family members, and he said their wishes carry “significant weight” on whether his office seeks the death penalty.
“It should never be sought lightly. This is something that weighs heavily on me, as I have a deep belief in the sanctity of human life. However, in appropriate circumstances it is justified, and I firmly believe that in those cases it is right,” he said.
Under state law, the death penalty can be used as a punishment when certain facts of a case are proven. These include a defendant convicted of a crime involving the use or threat of violence; and if in committing the murder the accused knowingly created a great risk of death for more than one person.
Other circumstances: the person committed the murder for hire or the promise of remuneration or employed another person to commit the murder for hire or the promise of remuneration; the murder was particularly heinous, atrocious or cruel; or the murder was committed in order to avoid or prevent arrest or legal prosecution, Thorp said.
The death penalty is justified if a murder was committed by a person who was serving a prison sentence after being convicted of a crime. If the victim is a law officer or employee under the control of the Department of Corrections and is killed in the line of duty, the death sentence can be served.
What you said
The TDP asked readers of its website what their opinion of the death penalty was. Sixty-three percent agreed they strongly supported it, while 17 percent strongly opposed it. Ten percent support it somewhat and 4% oppose it somewhat.