It’s the standard adage here.
Oklahomans are the nicest people.
Well, that is, until it comes to executing people. When you look at it with that frame of reference, as people living in a particular legal jurisdiction in this country, we and especially our great leaders, Republicans and Democrats alike, are simply bloodthirsty barbarians waiting expectantly for their next victim.
Oklahoma likes to kill its criminals. We lead the nation in the per capita number of criminal executions. Since 1976, the state has killed 112 people. Oklahoma was even the first state to implement lethal injection to make everyone feel better about killing people. We also imprison the largest number of women in the nation on a per capita basis as well. We’re widely known for killing people and imprisoning women.
Howdy, y'all. People are so friendly in Oklahoma.
Richard Glossip is scheduled to be killed by Oklahoma on September 16. He was convicted of murder in the 1997 beating death of Barry Van Treese, who was his boss and an owner of an Oklahoma City motel.
Here’s the information everyone needs to be focused on: Glossip didn’t actually kill his boss, and he claims he is innocent.
He was convicted on what prominent people and lawyers say is extremely slim evidence. He was accused of asking Justin Sneed to kill Van Treese. Sneed, in fact, admitted he beat Van Treese to death and was given life in prison in the case, but he claimed Glossip asked him to do the killing. Van Treese’s wife testified at the trial that she and her husband had found $6,000 missing from the hotel’s financial accounts and planned to approach Glossip about the issue before her husband was killed.
But as actor Susan Sarandon has pointed out recently, there is no actual physical evidence that Glossip asked Sneed to kill Van Treese. Where’s the tape recording? Where are the corroborating witnesses? Sarandon, who starred in the film Dead Man Walking, has publicly asked Gov. Mary Fallin to grant Glossip a 60-day reprieve so his attorneys can gather and present more evidence on his behalf. Anti-death penalty activist Sister Helen Prejean, who was depicted in the movie by Sarandon, has also asked Fallin to intervene. Fallin has declined.
There are two major points to be made here:
(1) The death penalty is barbaric and has been increasingly banned or not practiced here in the United States and throughout the world. Nebraska of all places just this year joined a growing number of states that have abolished the death penalty. Oklahomans should be ashamed we live in a place that leads the nation in this type of cruelty.
(2) Glossip didn’t kill anyone. Even if you’re in favor of the death penalty, this should be a no-brainer. He didn’t kill anyone. Even if he did coordinate the killing, which is a disputed fact not supported by physical evidence, he didn’t do the actual killing. The actual confessed murderer, who could have simply informed authorities about Glossip and not beat someone to death, will be allowed to live. Why not simply give Glossip life in prison without a chance for parole? Why even take the minutest chance of killing an innocent person?
The victim’s family and friends absolutely deserve our sympathies and justice, but life in prison is a major sentence. That’s what the killer received in this case. Even James Eagan Holmes, who killed 12 people and injured 70 people in 2012 at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, received life in prison.
The case against Glossip is tenuous and ambiguous at best. Fallin needs to do the right thing in this case and at the very least grant Glossip a temporary reprieve. As Sarandon, who called Fallin a “horrible person,” recently said about Glossip, “He's put there by a snitch who actually did kill the person, and then the snitch has life and this guy is being put to death on the 16th.”
Here’s a list of ten questions about the ongoing earthquake crisis here in central Oklahoma:
(1) What is the current financial cost of the overall damage to houses, buildings, highway infrastructure and the environment because of the recent earthquake crisis caused by the hydraulic fracturing process in Oklahoma?
(2) How can house owners prove all the foundational/wall cracks and warped windowsills and doorsills were even caused by the earthquakes even though the residents absolutely know they occurred right after particular earthquakes?
(3) How much will the earthquakes lower property values here?
(4) The first major earthquake related to the fracking process was near Prague in Nov. 5, 2011? Why has it taken Gov. Mary Fallin and other state leaders so long to respond to the crisis?
(5) What are some of the potential impacts if the earthquake surge goes on for several more years or decades or indefinitely?
(6) The Oklahoman editorial board continues to insist the state has adequate earthquake policies in effect. Why won’t it allow dissenting views to this position since so much is at stake for everyone?
(7) When will an enterprising attorney or law firm start a highly visible class action lawsuit against the oil and gas industry on this issue?
(8) State leaders, the media and some people in the oil and gas industry are always quick to point out it’s the wastewater injection wells used in the fracking process not the actual fracking itself that causes the earthquakes. Since the two processes are inextricably linked, why make a big deal about the distinction or why not simply dispose of the toxic wastewater in a safer manner?
(9) Why won’t the Oklahoma Corporation Commission do more to try to stop the earthquakes, such as issuing a complete or limited moratorium on wastewater injection disposal wells?
(10) It is expected the state could experience 800 or more 3.0-magnitude earthquakes in 2015. That’s a staggering number, and it’s growing exponentially. Just a few years ago, Oklahoma experienced on average only two or three earthquakes a year. What annual number of earthquakes would force a massive human migration from Earthquake Central, OK?
Be sure to read my last post about the complicity of Gov. Mary Fallin, The Oklahoman and the oil and gas industry to downplay the earthquake emergency here. Here’s another recent Okie Funk take on the crisis.
Let it be clear that Gov. Mary Fallin and The Oklahoman are complicit in the dreadfully slow and inadequate response to the state’s ongoing earthquake crisis created by the fracking process.
As I’ve written before, we are experiencing a crisis. To call it anything else is frankly dishonest. The state will probably experience more than 800 earthquakes this year of 3.0-magnitude or higher. That’s an incredible number for Oklahoma, and the science clearly points to disposal wastewater wells used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as the reason for all the shaking and rattling.
Here are two dates to consider: November 5, 2011 and August 7, 2015. The first date is when a 5.6-earthquake struck near Prague causing significant damage. The second date is today, as I post this, and no action of any major significance has been taken.
The Oklahoman on its editorial page argues the state has “solid” earthquake policies in place and is acting in a responsible manner. Fallin, who has finally acknowledged the link between the earthquakes and fossil fuel drilling here, points to a reduction in well volumes at some sites believed to be triggering the quakes.
But it’s simply laughable that the state has handled the issue in an adequate manner. The number and intensity of the quakes keep growing. This is a real crisis—and it’s a bipartisan issue—that demands more immediate action, which should include at least seriously considering a moratorium on disposal wastewater wells. Reducing volume amounts may or may not work in the long run. The scientists simply don’t know. What we do know is that the entire fracking process is incredibly damaging to the environment. Fallin needs to declare a state emergency and seek disaster help and relief from the federal government. This is an issue too large for a state such as Oklahoma to handle effectively.
Both The Oklahoman and Fallin have obviously been siding with the state’s oil and gas industry, which initially and blatantly argued the quakes were of a natural origin. That’s all changed now, but the oil and gas industry has a powerful political lobby in the state. It’s not going away anytime soon.
The Oklahoman is owned by Colorado billionaire Philip Anschutz, who made his money in the drilling business. The oil and gas industry, according to OpenSecrets.org, has been a top donor to Fallin’s political campaigns.
In the fracking process, water laced with highly toxic chemicals is injected into underground rock formations to create fissures that release fossil fuels. The wastewater is then injected by high pressure underground. Scientists believe it is the wastewater injection that is triggering earthquakes along fault lines here and elsewhere.
No one can deny that the oil and gas industry is important to the state’s economy, but what about damage to people’s homes and other property caused by the quakes. How many 3.0-magnitude and higher earthquakes can a house endure before there is serious foundational problems or other damage? What if the manmade earthquakes go on for years or decades near highly populated areas in central Oklahoma?