MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Opinion

May 8, 2014

THE PEOPLE SPEAK — State must re-evaluate capital punishment

In view of the botched attempt to kill convicted killer Clayton Lockett, Oklahoma must re-evaluate the barbaric institution of capital punishment. This not the first incident of cruel punishment in Oklahoma.

In 1905 a black man, Henry Bookman, was executed (murdered) by electrocution. Bookman was convicted of killing a white man. Bookman claimed self-defense, there was no evidence to the contrary. Since this was 1905 in Oklahoma, a black man had no defense against a white man. The first 10-second jolt did not kill Henry, after a second jolt of 17 seconds he was declared dead. This required 27 seconds of electrical jolts to complete the execution (murder, legal in the eyes of man).

In the late ’40s, a severely mentally challenged black man was convicted for rape and murder of a white woman in Muskogee. Evidence presented at trial was very circumstantial. This individual was not capable of aiding in his defense. When asked by a reporter if he understood what was happening, his reply was, “I am going home to see my mother.”

Supporters of capital punishment have no concerns for the execution of innocent people, this is not to say that Lockett was innocent. They often quote the Bible as justification for their belief; the Bible was often quoted to justify slavery. When we condone this kind of behavior, the question is are we any better than the accused?

The state of Oklahoma must step aside, forget political fallout, and allow an independent group to investigate this horrible, barbaric incident. This investigation must tell the exact cause of death. The correctional officials cannot be trusted with the truth.

CEDRIC JOHNSON

Muskogee

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