Executions

Amnesty International says there were fewer executions worldwide last year than the year before — but the number of death sentences handed down is the highest it has ever recorded.

In its annual report, Amnesty estimates that China carried out more executions than all the other countries put together. The human rights group says China put thousands of people to death. The exact figure is classified as a state secret and is not included in Amnesty's worldwide total.

In 2016, 30 people were sentenced to death in America, and 20 people were executed.

Those numbers are the lowest in decades, according to a report by the Death Penalty Information Center, which collects data on capital punishment in the United States, and advocates against the death penalty.

The 2016 numbers fit with a multi-decade trend. Death sentences and executions have been declining steadily since the mid-1990s.

More than five months after its last execution, Texas is set to execute Barney Ronald Fuller Jr., who was convicted of killing two of his neighbors.

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A proposal to ask Oklahoma voters to enshrine the death penalty in the state's nearly 100-year-old constitution sailed easily through the Legislature, but now is facing opposition from groups on opposite ends of the political spectrum.

In addition to various faith and civil rights organizations that traditionally oppose capital punishment, several conservative groups and the newly recognized Oklahoma Libertarian Party also are joining the fight against State Question 776.

This Week in Oklahoma KOSU's Michael Cross talks with ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel and Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill about the state Supreme Court striking down the controversial opt-out provision of the Workers' Compensation Law passed by the GOP legislature in 2013, a delay in the acceptance of procedures to could put executions on hold for the next two year and more injection wells get shut down after a fault line was recently discovered through the 5.8 quake which hit Oklahoma earlier this month.

OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

Oklahoma, a state with one of the busiest death chambers in the country over the last three decades, will have at least a two-year delay in lethal injections after the governing board of its prison system declined to consider new execution procedures on Tuesday.

Kate Carlton Greer / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

Oklahoma’s top officials say they’re taking time to thoroughly read a scathing 106-page report released Thursday criticizing Oklahoma’s execution protocols.

Gov. Mary Fallin and Department of Corrections Interim Director Joe Allbaugh both released statements acknowledging the 12-member panel of the multicounty grand jury and the process of reviewing capital punishment procedures.

“It is imperative that Oklahoma be able to manage the execution process properly,” Fallin said in a statement Thursday.

Even as the death penalty grows out of favor in the United States, the number of executions worldwide has risen to its highest level in 25 years, a new report on the death penalty from Amnesty International finds.

The human rights group recorded 1,634 executions in 2015, a number rivaled only by a three-year period beginning in 1988.

Cary Michael Lambrix, convicted of the 1983 killings of two people, was scheduled to die by lethal injection in Florida on Feb. 11.

But on Jan. 12, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state's process for imposing the death penalty, and now the state Supreme Court has delayed Lambrix's execution until the courts can determine how to apply the high court's ruling.

Florida's highest court on Tuesday will hear a case that may determine the fate of some 390 people on the state's death row. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Florida's system for imposing the death penalty is unconstitutional.

Florida has an execution set for next week. The state's highest court now must decide whether it can go forward.

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