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

Oklahoma Executes Donald Grant: First U.S. Execution of 2022

Death Penalty Info Center, Jan. 27, 2022

Oklahoma carried out the first execution of 2022 in the U.S. on January 27, injecting Donald Grant (pictured, at his clemency hearing) with a three-drug chemical cocktail whose constitutionality is the subject of a pending federal trial. Grant, whose execution drew international attention because of his serious mental illness, was pronounced dead at 10:16 a.m. local time.

Grant is the 43rd person capitally prosecuted in Oklahoma County to be put to death since executions resumed in the U.S. in January 1977. The county is one of five in the country — along with Harris (Houston), Dallas, Tarrant (Fort Worth), and Bexar (San Antonio) counties in Texas — that by themselves account for 20% of all executions in the U.S. in the modern era (323 out of 1,541). Oklahoma County accounts for more executions than any other county outside of Texas and has carried out more than twice the number of executions as the next-highest county (St. Louis County, Missouri, with 19). It was one of only two U.S. counties to impose more than one death sentence in 2021.

Gilbert Postelle, the next person scheduled for execution in Oklahoma, was also prosecuted and sentenced to death in Oklahoma County. If his scheduled February 17 execution is carried out, Oklahoma County will be tied with Bexar and Tarrant counties as the third most prolific county executioner in the modern era. Julius Jones, whose death sentence was commuted four hours before his scheduled execution on November 18, 2021 based on concerns about his innocence, also was sentenced to death in Oklahoma County.

Five people wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death in Oklahoma County have been exonerated, the fourth most of any county in the United States.

Grant’s lawyers had asked the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board to commute his death sentence, citing his diagnosis with schizophrenia and his brain damage. “Executing someone as mentally ill and brain damaged as Donald Grant is out of step with evolving standards of decency,” they argued at his clemency hearing. However, the board voted 4-1 to deny commutation. Grant had also sought to stay his execution until the federal district court could conduct a trial on the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s lethal-injection protocol. That trial is scheduled to begin on February 28, 2022. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to stay Grant’s execution.

In contrast to the October 28, 2021 execution of John Grant, witnesses described Donald Grant’s executions as “uneventful.” Witnesses to John Grant’s execution reported that he experienced more than two dozen “full body convulsions” and vomited several times over a 15-minute period during his execution. Prison officials, however, asserted that the execution took place “without complication.” The problems with John Grant’s execution added to existing concerns about the constitutionality of the state’s lethal-injection protocol, which uses midazolam, a drug that has been implicated in several botched executions.

To read the original Death Penalty Info Center article, click here.


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