Oklahoma senator pledges to abolish state's death penalty

In observance of a worldwide movement Wednesday to end executions, the Oklahoma Conference of Churches and Sen. Constance Johnson pledged to end the death penalty.
BY MEGAN ROLLAND mrolland@opubco.com Modified: October 10, 2012 at 10:04 pm •  Published: October 11, 2012

Sen. Constance Johnson's told a gathering of religious leaders at the state Capitol that she had a decision to make when her brother was slain in 1981 on the Langston University campus.

“Before I could go forward, I had to forgive,” Johnson, D-Forest Park, said.

Although the man accused of her brother's murder was only in jail until the trial, Johnson said she didn't believe in the death penalty 31 years ago and she still doesn't.

Wednesday was a worldwide day of opposition to capital punishment, and an Oklahoma association of religious leaders presented a theological statement opposing the death penalty.

The Rev. William Tabbernee, executive director of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, said he was shocked when he came to Oklahoma that capital punishment was still condoned.

He said 87 countries and 17 U.S. states have abolished the death penalty.

“Isn't it time Oklahoma abolish the death penalty?” he asked.

Tabbernee and other religious leaders say the Bible supports opposition to retribution and the death penalty.

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