To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Observercast

A Modest Proposal

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Let me stipulate: Bigler Jobe Stouffer is a horrible man who committed a horrible crime; has cost the taxpayers of Oklahoma millions of dollars as various administrations have attempted and failed to execute him; U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot today denied the Stouffer’s request for a stay of his scheduled Dec. 8 execution; but since the state Pardon and Parole Board voted to recommend clemency from the death penalty, Gov. Kevin Stitt will likely get the final word on Stouffer’s fate.

Stouffer will have his religious comforter by his side – actually physically touching him – as death is administered into his veins, even though the U.S. Supreme Court has recently struggled with this very question for hours, if not days, concerning a condemned killer in the Texas Death House in Huntsville. Questions raised in that case include: Inside the execution room or not; touching or just standing; at what distance and what are guards to do if the spiritual advisor attempts to stop the process, and many other complexities too numerous to include here.

And I haven’t even mentioned the main argument offered by Stouffer’s attorneys as the reason to stop his execution and then sentence Bigler to spend the rest of his life in Big Mac – the issue being, of course, the fact that several recent Oklahoma executions were botched, either by the personnel administrating the deadly fluids into the inmates or using chemicals other than those allowed by law.

And, no, I am not making any of this up. Therefore, I urge again an alternative that will halt these multi-decades-long appeals processes that usually either end in chaos at the last minute or in a successful appeal with the death sentence converted to life with or without parole.

It makes sense at least to me to abolish Oklahoma’s death penalty by Gov. Stitt converting the death sentences of all 46 death row inmates to life without parole and asking the Legislature to repeal the option of death in sentencing going forward.

Then, close death row, aka H Unit at McAlester, put those 46 offenders into the general population, save millions of dollars every year and put the defense and prosecution attorneys who litigate this matter of the state killing people into other criminal justice activities.

That way, both the relatives of the victims and perpetrators of the offenses can get on with their lives.

I would also suggest that a formula be created to compensate the aggrieved families with money from the state saved by abolishing the execution option.

Yes, I realize my plan has a number of flaws, is controversial and very unpopular with some. However, the only process worse than what I suggest today is … the current system. So why not try something else. And if you have a “better something else” than my proposal, let’s hear it.

I’m all ears.

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Cal Hobson
Cal Hobson, a Lexington Democrat, served in the Oklahoma Legislature from 1978-2006, including one term as Senate President Pro Tempore.