Lawmakers Highlight Problems With Oklahoma's Executions

Oklahoma has carried out 122 executions since 1976, more than any other state in the U.S. Oklahoma has also exonerated 11 people in that time period.

Thursday, November 9th 2023, 5:17 pm



A republican lawmaker is raising concerns about the state’s death penalty.

“Death row has to be the highest of bars to meet, and I don't believe several cases we have on death row have even met that bar,” said Rep. Kevin McDugle (R-Broken Arrow).

Oklahoma has carried out 122 executions since 1976, more than any other state in the U.S. Oklahoma has also exonerated 11 people in that time period.

After a clemency recommendation from the pardon and parole board, we’re waiting on word from the governor, if death row inmate Phillip Hancock’s life will be spared.

“I fight for it because Oklahomans - we want to do the right thing and the right thing is not putting Phillip Hancock to death, that's for sure,” said Rep. McDugle.

Rep. McDugle has spent the last few years digging into the state’s death penalty. He says he’s uncovered some serious problems.

“I’m 100 percent pro death penalty but we've got to get it right. Oklahomans don't want to put innocent people to death. We've got to make sure if we have a process for the death penalty that its a high bar for the most heinous crimes,” said Rep. McDugle.

McDugle says some of the dozens sitting on death row have not met the high bar, or committed heinous crimes that warrant the death penalty.

“With Phillip Hancock there's all kinds of evidence that they lured him into a house, that he defended himself. Why in the world is he on death row? He shouldn't be on death row today,” said Rep. McDugle.

McDugle was also part of a bipartisan review in 2017 that recommended more than 40 changes to Oklahoma's capital punishment process. While lawmakers continue to push for changes to be made, McDugle says almost none of those recommendations have been implemented. 

“Ten percent of the people that we put on death row have been proven innocent so with those ratios we have surely put to death an innocent person at some time,” said Rep. McDugle.

“If we put to death Richard Glossip we put to death an innocent person, Phillip Hancock I believe is the same way,” said Rep. McDugle.

Governor Stitt’s office said in a statement they are reviewing Hancock’s case and clemency recommendation. If Stitt does not grant clemency Hancock is scheduled to be executed on November 30th.

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