An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.  - Gandhi

The OK-CADP 2021 Virtual Annual Awards Program to feature Marc Howard and Honor Local Abolitionists on June 5

For Immediate Release – Thursday, April 8, 2021

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (OK-CADP) will host its 2021 Virtual Annual Awards Program on Saturday, June 5. The fundraising event will be held at 5:00 p.m. online via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The evening will feature keynote speaker Marc Howard, Professor of Government and Law at Georgetown University and Director of the Prisons and Justice Initiative.

Prison educator, author, and exonerator, Howard is one of the country’s leading advocates for criminal justice and prison reform. Through the Prisons and Justice Initiative Marc brings together scholars, practitioners and students to examine and combat mass incarceration.  

In his most recent book, Unusually Cruel: Prisons, Punishment, and the Real American Exceptionalism, Howard argues that the American criminal justice and prison systems are exceptional – “in a truly shameful way.” 

Howard visited Julius Jones in McAlester on Oklahoma’s death row in October of 2019, Following the visit Howard posted on Facebook, “Anyone who seriously examines this case realizes that Julius Jones is innocent, yet the state of Oklahoma still plans to execute him. He was wrongfully convicted after a sham of a trial that had all the classic ingredients: vindictive prosecutor, racist jury, lying witness, and incompetent trial counsel.”

OK-CADP chair, Rev. Don Heath stated, “We are excited to hear Marc Howard share his insights with us about the state of American prisons, including death row, as well as criminal justice reform.”

On March 8, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board granted a “stage two” commutation hearing to Jones, who has always maintained his innocence. His next hearing will take place in June. 

During the event, OK-CADP will honor three members of the community with the group’s Abolitionist Awards.

The Phil Wahl Abolitionist of the Year Award will be given to community activist Jimmy Lawson, a Rose State College professor and longtime advocate who has worked tirelessly for the commutation of his best friend Julius Jones. 

The Opio Toure Courageous Advocate Award will recognize the service of Emma Rolls, Chief of the Capital Habeas Unit, Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma.  

Ok-CADP’s Lifetime Abolitionist Award will honor executive board member Leslie Fitzhugh. Having served at the Oklahoma Department of Corrections for 30 years, Fitzhugh’s opposition to the death penalty has continued through her work with the coalition. She has been an outspoken advocate for the innocence and commutation of Julius Jones, who has been on death row for over two decades.

Oklahoma has had a moratorium on the death penalty since October 2015 after the wrong drug was nearly used to execute death row prisoner Richard Glossip on September 30, 2015.

On February 13, 2020, state officials announced that Oklahoma would resume capital punishment and return to the 3-drug lethal injection protocol previously used in the state’s infamous botched executions of Charles Warner and Clayton Lockett

“As Oklahoma draws ever closer to begin setting execution dates, the coalition’s work continues,” Heath said.

Thirty-one of the 47 prisoners on Oklahoma’s death row have now exhausted all of their appeals.

To support the coalition’s mission, individual tickets for the OK-CADP 2021 Virtual Annual Awards Program can be purchased for $50, $20 for students. Sponsorships (8 tickets) are available for $400. 


TO ORDER TICKETS BY MAIL, send checks along with guest’s name and email address to: OK-CADP, P.O. Box 713, Oklahoma City, OK 73101-0713.  indicate “annual program” in the memo line.


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