By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (OK-CADP) has announced two events to be held on Saturday, April 4, on the University of Central Oklahoma campus.
Both events will feature special guest speaker Frank Thompson, a former Oregon State Penitentiary warden – now an anti-death penalty advocate. The programs will be held in the Nigh University Center, at 2nd Street and Garland Godfrey Drive in Edmond.
From 3 to 4 p.m. the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) and University of Oklahoma (OU) Debate Teams will examine “Strategies for Ending the Death Penalty” in Constitution Hall on the 2nd floor. Both teams will debate what is the best path for eliminating capitol punishment. This event is free and open to the public.
Following the debate, Thompson will speak during an audience participation session at 4 p.m.
Registration for OK-CADP’s 24th Annual Membership Meeting & Awards Dinner will begin at 5 p.m. in Nigh Center Ballrooms A & B on the 3rd Floor. The dinner and program will begin at 5:30 p.m., at which time Thompson will deliver his keynote speech.
A member of the Advisory Council of Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, Thompson was warden when Oregon carried out two executions, the only ones in the past 52 years.
The experience was enough for him to now support life without parole as an alternative to the death penalty.
Reflecting on the infamous botched execution of Clayton Lockett in April 2014, Thompson said, “The Oklahoma experience has compelled me to speak out against the death penalty.
“I often emphasize how what happened in Oklahoma caused me to emotionally revisit all of the ‘what if’ scenarios that gave me nightmares as we prepared for the executions in Oregon,” he said.
“I was not nearly as concerned about whether or not the drugs would work as they were designed to as I was about some kind of ‘Murphy’s law’ situation developing that might expose the inmate and staff to unintended trauma. Without a doubt, this was my greatest concern of all,” he said.
“Executions are the types of undertakings where there is no room for a Murphy’s law incident.”
Today Thompson travels the country speaking out against the death penalty. He projects that costs are approaching $28 million per year to administer capital punishment in the state of Oregon.
Thompson also believes there is a real and unacceptable chance of killing an innocent person.
Since 1973 more than 150 people have been released from death rows in the United States–ten of these in Oklahoma.
A grassroots organization, OK-CADP engages in outreach, education, and advocacy aimed at raising awareness of issues related to the death penalty and mobilizing Oklahoma citizens and their elected officials to support abolition of the death penalty.
“We at the OK-CADP oppose the death penalty for variety of reasons, most notably on the basis of our understanding of morality,” Adam Leathers, OK-CADP spokesperson and board member said.
“These events and what Mr. Thompson has to say is more important than ever,”
“Right now, the eyes of the world are on Oklahoma; waiting to see if we will act with logic and reason or if we will choose to embrace the death penalty and thereby embrace an archaic, barbaric, and expensive means of seeking vengeance that has nothing to do with justice or crime prevention.”
One of the organization’s objectives is to reduce the number of new death sentences.
Through the Bob Lemon Capitol Defense Attorney Scholarship, to date, twelve attorneys have been able to attend national development seminars to expand their abilities to more effectively defend persons accused of capitol offences.
Leathers added, ““We at the OK-CADP are not unaware of a murder victim’s family nor do we dismiss their pain. Instead, we see that pain and heartbreak and oppose inflicting that on another family.”
Dinner tickets are $50 for adults and $15 for students. To purchase tickets visit www.okcadp.org or mail checks with guests names to PO Box 713, OKC 73101-0713.
For more information, contact OK-CADP at 405-946-1645.