House of Representatives

Dunnington Legislation Looks to End Oklahoma’s Death Penalty


1/14/2020 1:42:00 PM

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Jason Dunnington (D-Oklahoma City) on Tuesday filed House Bill 2876 for consideration during the 2020 legislative session. If passed and signed into law, the measure will remove the death penalty from among the options in Oklahoma for sentencing in capital cases.

“I’m proud to be a part of the important progress we’ve made toward criminal justice reform,” Dunnington said. “Oklahomans are becoming more aware of the wasted costs of capital punishment, a system that provides no deterrent to crime while flushing millions down the drain that could be better spent on responses to violence that actually work.”

Dunnington’s legislation found support from The Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City.

“This is a bold proposal that addresses the disturbing realities and inequity of capital punishment,” Coakley said. “We don't end the cycle of violence by committing more violence. In all of these crimes, we lost a life, and the death penalty only serves to further devalue human dignity. When available, we should choose non-lethal ways to ensure justice and protect society.”

“This is neither a partisan nor an ideological proposal,” Dunnington said. “The profound problems with the death penalty are a concern for all Oklahomans, indeed for all Americans. That is why Republicans and Democrats from Alabama to Oregon are increasingly embracing the call for a repeal of the death penalty.”

Dunnington detailed the primary objections to continued use of the death penalty:

  • For every 10 inmates executed on death row in the US since 1976, one inmate has been exonerated;

  • The taxpayer cost of incarceration for death row inmates is more than twice that of inmates with life sentences;

  •  There is no evidence to support that use of the death penalty is an effective crime deterrent;

  •  Families of victims routinely testify that executing the convicted offers little consolation for their pain and loss.

The measure will be assigned for a committee hearing in February.

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