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

Coalition Dinner Featuring Former LA District Attorney Gil Garcetti a Huge Success!

An enthralled group of nearly 200 people gave a standing ovation to keynote speaker, Gill Garcetti’s story relating the history of the death penalty in the United States and his current beliefs on this most critical issue.

Among the audience were legislators, lawyers, judges, district attorneys, doctors, ministers, students and death penalty abolitionists from across the state.

Garcetti shared how his stance as a Los Angeles County District Attorney seeking death sentences was transformed into being a standard bearer for ending the death penalty.

Among his concerns are the immense costs of prosecutions, appeals process, and incarceration on death row and even more critical, possible innocence.

“I served 32 years in the District Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles and I’ve been gone for nearly 12 years,” said Garcetti. “In those accumulated 44 years, only two people sent to Death Row from an L.A. court have been executed, despite decades of agony for the families of murder victims and hundreds of millions of dollars in costs to taxpayers.”

“I have concluded that the death penalty law should be replaced with life imprisonment without the possibly of parole,” Garcetti added.

Garcetti also believes that murder victims’ families become victims themselves as they face years of torment by the legal process.

“The hundreds of millions of dollars we throw away on this broken system would be much better spent on solving and preventing crime, investing in our kids’ schools and by helping the victims families of murder cases to get their lives back together,” said Garcetti.

By contrast, for 2011-12, Oklahoma’s annual expenditures were $27,684 per prisoner for maximum security, and only $8,058 per student for public education.

During his speech, Garcetti discussed the book, The Death Penalty – An American History by Stuart Banner, Harvard Press. He recommended it as a “must read.”

A world renowned photographer, Garcetti has published 7 photo books holding numerous exhibitions including The United Nations in New York, UNESCO in Paris, the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Millennium Museum in Beijing.  He is also a Consulting Director for TNT’s two series, The Closer and Major Crimes.

Three OK-CADP members were recognized for their outstanding service this year.

The Opio Toure Courageous Advocate Award was presented by board member Margaret Cox to Oklahoma City attorney Mark Henricksen.

“The most effective way to stop this madness is when we finally convince the legislature that if it really wants to continue killing poor people it is going to have to raise the taxes on rich people,” said Henricksen.

“I think that many people in this room will live to see the abolition of the death penalty in this country,” Henricksen added. “Collectively we are going to eliminate this stain on our national conscience.”

State Senator Constance N. Johnson received the Phil Wahl Abolitionist of the Year Award presented by board member Marilyn Knott.

This year Sen. Johnson authored Senate Bill 717,  to create a task force to study capital punishment.

Co-chair Rex Friend bestowed the Lifetime Abolitionist Award to Lydia Gill Polley, calling her the “heart and soul” of the organization.

Ben Jones, commuted from death, to life, then to freedom in 2011, and Tina Jenkins, sister of Ernest Marvin Carter, executed in 2002, read the names of those executed in the United States during 2012-2013.

OK-CADP announced the new Bob Lemon Capitol Defense Attorney Scholarships, which fosters ongoing professional development for more effective defending and appealing of death sentences.

The first Scholarships recipients are Janella Spurlock, Investigator/Mitigation Specialist; Michael Johns, Capital Investigator; and Shena Burgess, Deputy Chief Public Defender from the Tulsa County Public Defenders Office and Joe Robertson, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System.

The attending OK-CADP members also elected State Senator Constance N. Johnson, Markus Smith, Jasmine Allen, Loyce Newton Edwards, Collin Walke, Gloria Wallace and Barbara Hardy to serve as At-Large Board Members.

Family members Shante, Jasmine, Chandra, and Spice Allen; Jim and Ann Fowler, and Janae and John Smucker attended the event in honor of their executed loved ones.

“OK-CADP is part of a National Abolition 2025 Campaign,” said Polley. “Six states have abolished the death penalty in the last 6 years, so we now have 18 states without the death penalty.  Fifteen other states had bills submitted to their legislative bodies; 4 of these seem very close to positive outcomes by 2014.  Oklahoma is NOT one of those states.”

“However, we are a vital part of the movement towards Abolition 2025.  We CAN bring the death penalty out of the shadows in to light of reality—with facts and real outcomes to counteract emotion-bound misconceptions, and we CAN lower the number of new death sentences.”

“We CAN refuse to let another’s hate make us haters; another’s revenge make us revengers, another’s killing make us killers.  For we can overcome hate with love and misconceptions with facts,” Polley said.

The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty would like to thank everyone who came, contributed, volunteered and in numerous other ways helped to make this incredible event possible.

Please join us next year!

View photos from the event!






Attending the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty’s (OK-CADP) 22nd Annual Membership and Awards Dinner are (L-R) State Senator Constance N. Johnson, winner of the Phil Wahl Abolitionist of the Year Award; attorney Mark Henricksen received the Opio Toure Courageous Advocate Award; OK-CADP co-chair Lydia Polley was given the Lifetime Abolitionist Award and Gil Garcetti, event keynote speaker and former Los Angeles District Attorney, now an anti death penalty spokesperson.  Photo by Darla Shelden


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