OKLAHOMA CITY — Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City, issued the following statement on the announcement by Attorney General Mike Hunter of the State of Oklahoma’s intent to reinstitute lethal injection:
“We need to stop spending taxpayer money to kill human beings. We deserve justice for these heinous crimes, but we don’t end the cycle of violence by committing more violence. In all of these cases, we lost a life, and the death penalty only serves to further devalue human dignity. We have the capability now to punish criminals and protect society without killing in return. I call on our legislators and Gov. Stitt to make a change for Oklahoma and choose non-lethal ways to ensure justice.”
Archbishop Coakley detailed the many problems with justification for 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;
- Multiple studies have shown that use of the death penalty offers no deterrent against capital crimes;
- Families of victims routinely testify that executing the convicted offers little consolation for their pain and loss.
What’s more, a recent landmark survey of Oklahoma voters showed that when presented with a choice between the death penalty and a life sentence for those convicted of murder, a majority of voters opposed the death penalty.
For these reasons, the Catholic Conference of Oklahoma has offered overwhelming support for Rep. Jason Dunnington’s House Bill 2876 which proposes to follow the lead of more than 20 states by repealing the death penalty.