TULSA, Okla. - Quick facts:
- SQ776 would add the death penalty to the Oklahoma Constitution.
- Supporters say it would protect the death penalty in the state.
- Opponents say the measure would not affect whether or not Oklahomans could be executed for crimes.
- They say the move would shift power to the legislature, taking from the judicial system.
Both supporters and opponents of the death penalty in Oklahoma are rallying together to urge voters to say “no” to a state question that would add it to the state’s constitution.
One opposition group reached out across the country to a man who says his experience with the death penalty changed his views completely.
Frank Thompson was the superintendent of the Oregon State Penitentiary during the department of corrections’ only two executions in the last 50 years
He says he lost family members to murder, and even says he had the satisfaction of knowing one of the killers was eventually put to death for another murder.
After that, though, he says he had a change of heart. That change came when he had to write the protocol for lethal injection and plan the first execution in Oregon in 35 years.
Now, he’s against the death penalty, but he’s standing in Oklahoma with people who are for capital punishment asking voters to say “no” to State Question 776.
State question supporters say it would protect the death penalty in Oklahoma and give the state the ability to find another method of execution if one is found to be invalid.
Opponents, like Thompson, say too many people think this is about whether Oklahoma supports the death penalty. In fact, the measure would not change whether Oklahomans can be put to death for crimes.
It would, however, put the death penalty into the Oklahoma Constitution.
Opponents say doing that takes away the judicial branch’s power to evaluate and make changes when necessary. They say it shifts power to the legislature, threatening the balance of power.
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