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December 30 2009 | UNITED STATES

USA/Oklahoma

The lawmaker Connie Johnson seeks support to abolish death penalty in her State

 
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Oklahoma lawmaker Connie Johnson seeks support to abolish death penalty

BY JULIE BISBEE

Sen. Connie Johnson said she will spend the next four years working to get support for abolishing the death penalty before eventually filing legislation.

 

Johnson, D-Oklahoma City, and members of the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty said they will organize grassroots support.

Death penalty cases cost the state more money more than non-death penalty cases, Johnson said.

"It’s time to start looking at the cost of incarceration and the death penalty,” Johnson said during a news conference Monday at the state Capitol. "We need to take a dollars-and-cents point of view.”

Johnson said she would wait to file legislation to abolish the death penalty to allow the coalition to organize support for the measure statewide

Republican legislative leaders said they would not support such a measure.

"I can assure the citizens of Oklahoma that as long as we control the majority in the Legislature, wild ideas like this will not become law,” said Sen. Todd Lamb, R-Edmond."The foremost job of your elected officials is to ensure the safety of all citizens, and we will not relinquish that role to those who would prefer to coddle criminals.”

Criminal justice reform will be the subject of a three-day symposium that begins today at the State Capitol.

Public hearings will be held from 9 a.m. to noon and 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Senate chamber.

Topics to be discussed include abolishing the death penalty, removing the governor from the parole process, a review of death penalty cases and sentencing reform.

The hearings are hosted by Johnson and Rep. Sue Tibbs, R-Tulsa. All meetings are open to the public.


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