FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BIPARTISAN BLUE-RIBBON COMMISSION FORMED TO STUDY OKLAHOMA DEATH PENALTY PROCESS
Oklahoma City (March 28, 2016) — A group of prominent Oklahomans are joining together to form a blue-ribbon, bipartisan Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission. The Commission will conduct the first-ever independent, objective and thorough review of the state’s entire capital punishment system.
“Oklahoma has an opportunity to lead the nation by being the first state to conduct extensive research on its entire death penalty process, beginning with an arrest that could lead to an execution,” said former Gov. Brad Henry, of Henry-Adams Companies, LLC, one of the group’s co-chairs. “The Commission includes distinguished Oklahomans with differing views and perspectives on capital punishment who are donating their time to work together on a research-driven review,” he said.
Joining Gov. Henry as co-chairs are Reta Strubhar, a judge on the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (1993-2004) and an Assistant District Attorney of Canadian County (1982-1984); and Andy Lester, of the Spencer Fane law firm and a former U.S. Magistrate Judge for Western District of Oklahoma who served on President Ronald Reagan’s Transition team for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (1980-1981).
Members of the Commission have experience in a variety of aspects of the capital punishment system, including victim advocacy, policymaking, prosecution, defense, and judging. They also include leading lawyers, business leaders, and scholars. In addition to the co-chairs, the members are Robert H. Alexander, Jr., of The Law Office of Robert H. Alexander, Jr.; Howard Barnett, President of OSU-Tulsa; Dean Andrew Coats, Dean Emeritus of OU College of Law; Dean Valerie Couch, Oklahoma City University School of Law; Maria Kolar, Assistant Professor of OU College of Law; Rob Nigh, Chief Public Defender, Tulsa County; Christy Sheppard, a victims’ advocate; Kris Steele, Director of The Education and Employment Ministry (TEEM) and former Speaker of the House; and Gena Timberman, founder of The Luksi Group.
“Our goal is to provide a resource for Oklahomans to allow them to make informed judgments about our state’s capital punishment system that, we hope, will benefit both Oklahoma and the country as a whole,” said Henry.
The Commission will independently determine its findings and recommendations and will make public a comprehensive report in early 2017.
The Constitution Project is providing organizational, staffing and logistical support to the Commission. TCP is a nonpartisan Washington D.C.-based legal research and advocacy organization that brings together highly respected experts from diverse disciplines and political ideologies to examine a host of government policies and practices that pose difficult constitutional challenges. See more about TCP at www.constitutionproject.org
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