Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Oklahoma Commission On Wrongful Convictions

   Oklahoma Senator Constance Johnson, filed legislation to create the OKLAHOMA COMMISSION ON WRONGFUL CONVICTION. SB2208
this bill is part of her 4 year strategy to repeal Oklahoma’s death
penalty. The commission would review wrongful convictions, identify
potential weaknesses in the criminal justice system & propose remedies to strengthen the quality of justice in Oklahoma. Among the 9 Americans exonerated from death row in 2009—2 were from Oklahoma.
10 people from Oklahoma have been exonerated in the last 10 years.
In collaboration with Oklahoma Coalition To Abolish the Death Penalty, we’ll highlight information regarding the ineffectiveness of the death penalty as a deterrent to capitol crime, a view held by numerous law enforcement chiefs across the state, it’s high cost to our state < 3x cost of life without parole > plus the extraordinary risks associated with execution under our system of justice. At a time when scarce resources and an ongoing budget crisis have forced substantial cutbacks in services and state employee furloughs, we feel its important to invest our state’s resources in programs that produce positive results. Last year with revelations regarding the death of Bicycle Bob in Edmond, Ok. we were actually faced with 3 more heart breaking examples of our justice system’s infallibility, which further illustrates that the risks and costs associated with the death penalty do not justify the investment.
Senator Johnson noted the death penalty is disproportionately applied to the poor and that the number of systematic causes of wrongful convictions persist in our justice system.
The fact that a death penalty sentence can stem from a single eye witness testimony; a single forensic lab’s results; or an unrecorded confession has undoubtedly led to the conviction of innocent people. The quality of legal representation available to poor defendants maybe an even greater problem as overworked, underpaid public defenders are at a tremendous disadvantage in capitol cases. Through this legislation our hope is to minimize the number of wrongful convictions in Oklahoma, bolister the public’s confidence in the integrity of our justice system and ensure that the administration of justice in our state is fair, accurate and reliable. Senator Johnson shared that during a recent symposium she sponsored on criminal justice reform, the consensus of those present and that has since been expressed by many who support the death penalty is that NO ONE SUPPORTS THE KILLING OF ANYONE WHO HAS BEEN WRONGLY CONVICTED!!
<Senator Johnson 405-521-5531 >

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