Oklahoma Lawmaker Opposes Capital Punishment

Article excerpt

A state lawmaker is continuing her push to eliminate the death penalty in Oklahoma.

During a Capitol press conference on Wednesday, state Sen. Connie Johnson, D-Oklahoma City, appeared with religious leaders who opposed the use of capital punishment in Oklahoma. Johnson, who has for several years fought against the use of the death penalty in Oklahoma, called again for state lawmakers to eliminate capital punishment.

Johnson's press conference was held in conjunction with the 10th- annual World Day Against the Death Penalty, which was Tuesday. The senator appeared with several religious leaders and the family member of a murder victim.

William Tabbernee, executive director of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, presented a statement signed by leaders of several Christian denominations, including Bishop Mike Girlinghouse of the Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Church of America; the Rev. Stan Basler, director of Criminal Justice and Mercy Ministries, Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church; and Neely Goen, ordained minister and daughter of a Kansas Highway Patrol officer who was murdered.

"Christian tradition, based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, has consistently encouraged civil authorities to employ ways other than capital punishment to safeguard society," Tabbernee said. "Given the positive experiences of states and other countries that have already abolished the death penalty, it seems that capital punishment not only runs counter to the principle of restorative justice, but is unnecessary. …