Tulsa, OK Criminal Defense & Family Law Blog

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Oklahoma Case Brings Death Penalty Even More into Question

Will there continue to be a death penalty in the United States?

Controversy has surrounded the death penalty for decades and every once in a while a particular case draws the public's attention to the topic with renewed vigor. Such a case is the one involving Richard Glossip in Oklahoma. Glossip was saved when he was within hours of execution not once, but twice.

An Execution Twice Delayed

Last September 16th, Glossip was granted a 2-week reprieve by an Oklahoma Appeals Court in order to review his murder conviction for arranging for a 1997 death. Glossip's conviction had been based almost entirely on the word of the man who actually executed the killing; Glossip always maintained his innocence.
During this appeal, the Court of Appeals held that his conviction should stand, but 2 weeks later, Glossip's execution was again postponed when Oklahoma officials didn't have the correct lethal drugs to perform the execution. At this point, not only Glossip's execution, but all executions in Oklahoma have been put on hold indefinitely. The state of Oklahoma, up until now one on the last death-penalty strongholds in the U.S., has now called the death penalty into question once again.

Opinions and Statistics Regarding the Death Penalty

Certainly, the number of individuals executed in the U.S. has declined remarkably during the last two and a half decades. While 1999 saw 98 executions, in 2015 there have been only 28. According to opponents of capital punishment, their movement is carrying more and more weight and, in the future, the death penalty may cease to be considered appropriate punishment for any crime.
In general, the South has been the region of the country least willing to abolish the death penalty, but even there, there are signs of uncertainty. Although, according to both Gallup polls and the Pew Research Center, the majority of Americans still support capital punishment, 2015 showed the highest level of opposition to the death penalties in 40 years: 37 percent.
While a majority of Americans still favor capital punishment, surveys from both Gallup and the Pew Research Center this year showed public opposition to the death penalty to be at its highest levels in four decades — about 37 percent.

Reasons the Death Penalty Is Being Questioned Recently

There are several reasons doubt is being cast on the legitimacy of the death penalty process. These include:
• Six cases in 2015 in which evidence exonerated inmates on the verge of being executed
• Cases in which chemicals have malfunctioned causing extended, painful deaths
• Statistics that show minority prisoners, especially African-Americans and Hispanics are disproportionately targeted for execution, particularly for murders of White victims.
• Top officials, including President Obama, finding the death penalty "deeply troubling," particularly when the death process is unnecessarily extended
• Two liberal Supreme Court Justices, Stephen G. Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, indicating that they would support a historic challenge to capital punishment

Evidence That the Death Penalty Is on the Wane

There is a great deal of evidence that the government, and the population at large, is reconsidering how, when, and if the death penalty should be meted out. During the past year, the U.S. has issued only 49 new death sentences, the fewest since the death penalty was reinstated in 1973. The chemicals necessary for the few lethal injections legally approved are in short supply. Texas, well-known to be the state that typically carries out the most executions in the U.S., handed down only two new death sentences during 2015, the lowest number since the 1970s. Moreover, the number of states allowing executions has diminished this year as the penalty is reconsidered for practical, as well as moral, reasons.

If you are faced with criminal charges of any kind, be assured that the Law Offices of Greg Lavender are well-prepared to offer you a vigorous and skilled defense. They are adept at plea bargaining negotiations and courtroom defense, as well as highly capable in the appeals arena.

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