Oklahoma will execute 25 people unless we convince Governor Stitt to issue a moratorium on the death penalty now.
Twenty-five men, whose cases include serious claims of innocence, racial bias, severe mental illness, intellectual disability, and severe childhood trauma and abuse, are all scheduled for execution. These cases reveal deep systemic flaws in Oklahoma’s capital punishment system and illustrate the egregious unfairness and cruelty of the death penalty in general.
Oklahoma has the highest execution rate per capita of any state.1 But half of the death sentences have been overturned due to mistakes and legal errors.2 How many innocent people may die before Oklahoma stops executions?
A 2017 review of the state’s death penalty policy conducted by a independent and bipartisan commission recommended that Oklahoma issue a moratorium on executions until 40 significant reforms are implemented. None of those recommendations have been put into effect, including the need to address racial bias.
In fact, 40% of the men set to be executed are Black, despite the state only having a Black population of 7.8%.
The majority of the Black men scheduled for execution were 25 years old or younger at the time of the crime that put them on death row. Alfred Mitchell was just two weeks past his eighteenth birthday, barely old enough to receive a death sentence. In striking contrast, only one of the white men with an execution date was 25 years old or younger at the time of the crime. Simply stated– young Black men in Oklahoma are being sentenced to death at wildly disparate rates than white men.
In addition to facing blatant racism, the 25 individuals on Oklahoma’s death row also include vulnerable people who suffer from severe mental illness and have experienced horrific trauma and deprivation throughout their childhoods. Five of these men have severe brain damage, two have histories of schizophrenia. James Pavatt is a veteran who had no prior criminal history. Kendrick Simpson survived hurricane Katrina and spent years on the streets of New Orleans riddled with trauma, but was sentenced to die without the jury ever even hearing his story. And these are just some of their stories.
It is racist, immoral, inhumane and cruel to treat people this way.
The Julius Jones Coalition worked tirelessly to stop the execution of Julius Jones, an innocent Black man in Oklahoma last year. We, along with the death row exonerees of Witness to Innocence, know –first-hand– the deep flaws of Oklahoma’s death penalty system. This is why we’re teaming up to implore Governor Stitt to issue a moratorium on the Oklahoma death penalty TODAY.