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Two Catholic Bishops issue statement on Oklahoma’s call for execution dates

The City Sentinel, Staff Report

OKLAHOMA CITY  — This week state leaders issued an official call for execution dates for seven individuals currently on death row.

In response to the news, the Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City, and the Most Rev. David A. Konderla, Bishop of Tulsa, issued a joint statement. In a press release sent to The City Sentinel and other news organizations, the two Catholic leaders said:

“We are disappointed and surprised by the state’s haste to set execution dates for six men on death row at the same time a federal court is reviewing Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol to determine if it is constitutional. This decision also may preempt and void a commutation hearing already set by the state for one of the men, Julius Jones.

“It is important for us to support survivors and victims’ families who have been devastated by these crimes.

“But we have other means to exact justice and protect our communities without the use of capital punishment. We know from DNA evidence that many people have been sentenced to death who are later exonerated. Historically there have been biases and arbitrariness in the application of the death penalty.

“It also costs nine times more to execute a prisoner than to impose life imprisonment. Ultimately, capital punishment denies the opportunity for repentance and diminishes the dignity of all human life.”

The Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley (left), Archbishop of Oklahoma City, and the Most Rev. David A. Konderla, Bishop of Tulsa.