While I am tucked away in Montana in the very first stages of writing my next book (more about it in a future newsletter), the state of Oklahoma is embarking on a killing spree. Attorney General, John O’Connor, asked the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals for approval to set the execution dates of 25 men incarcerated on death row at McAlester, the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. The court granted O’Connor’s request and his desire that “as many executions possible are set four weeks apart.” And so begins a gruesome monthly ritual.
Each man will have a clemency hearing before the Pardon and Parole Board. The Pardon Board’s recommendations then go to Governor Stitt, who has the choice to abide by that recommendation or reject it. As governor, he literally has power over life and death.
We will be putting a spotlight on Oklahoma in the coming months. The state has a gruesome history of botched executions, and a history, too, of covering up mistakes and trying to keep its execution process as hidden as possible. We will do our best to ensure that the world knows what Oklahoma is doing to its citizens.
We won’t get the chance to write about each of the men whose lives are at stake in this newsletter, but we will be closely monitoring everything on my Twitter feed and in my Facebook posts. Below, you can learn something about James Coddington, the first man Oklahoma plans to kill.
Second on the list will be a name familiar to many of you: Richard Glossip. We still have hopes that Richard will be saved. A group of Republicans, all who favor the death penalty, are united in their belief in Richard’s innocence and are working alongside his lawyers to get him a reprieve.
From the heart,
Sister, a film by Joe Cardona and José L. Vázquez, documents the influences that shaped Sister Helen Prejean’s path from a cloistered environment to a vocal advocate for justice.
The film shows the winding path Sister Helen followed from a privileged white upbringing in the Jim Crow South to the execution chamber in Angola, Louisiana’s State prison, and from the witnessing of Patrick Sonnier’s execution to her ongoing ministry to end the death penalty today. It also includes footage of Sr. Helen with Richard Glossip, one of the men Oklahoma plans to execute this year, when he came close to execution for the third time in 2015.
Get together with your class or parish, friends or neighbors, or your whole community and watch Sister together. Available for download now.