Either we get the death penalty right, or we don’t do it

September 5, 2020

Oklahoma is rightfully known for its harsh stance against violent crime and that’s a good thing. Being tough on violent criminals means we have a keen sense of justice. Oklahomans want a system in which the guilty are punished and the innocent are protected.

Is that the system we have?

This is the question every Oklahoman must consider as the state ramps up efforts to resume executions. This decision has been controversial — and for good reason.

Perhaps the most unsettling death penalty case in Oklahoma involves Richard Glossip who was convicted of orchestrating a murder-for-hire scheme that resulted in the beating death of hotel owner Barry Van Treese in 1997. Glossip was never accused of committing the actual murder. A meth-adled maintenance man named Justin Sneed confessed to the killing, but Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy accused Glossip of ordering the hit.

The only person leveling that accusation against Glossip was the killer himself, Justin Sneed. In exchange for his uncorroborated testimony against Glossip, and despite zero physical evidence to back his claims, Sneed worked out a deal to spare himself the death penalty. Sneed now resides in a relatively soft medium-security prison while Glossip has spent the last 23 years on Death Row.

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