Oklahoma Coalition Against the Death Penalty (OK-CADP) and anti-execution attorney comment on the death of John Marion Grant

On Thursday, October 28, Oklahoma moved forward with the first lethal injection execution since 2015. The action came after the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision, lifted stays of execution that were put in place on Wednesday for John Marion Grant and another death row prisoner, Julius Jones, by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In response to the execution of grant, Don Heath — chair for the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (OK-CADP) — issued a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK.com and other news organizations in Oklahoma and across the United States:

“John Grant suffered from full-body convulsions and screamed for 15 minutes. A grand jury investigation, a new protocol and a five-year moratorium did not change the result: another inhumane infliction of torture. And the Department of Corrections and Governor Kevin Stitt act as if nothing unusual happened and they were pleased with the result.”The Coalition calls on Gov. Stitt to stay the five executions that are scheduled in the next three months until after the trial in federal court in Oklahoma City is concluded in late February and early March on whether Oklahoma’s drug protocol constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The execution of John Grant is conclusive evidence that the new protocol still violates the Eighth Amendment.”

Rex Friend, a long-time member of the board of directors for OK-CADP, said in a statement:”The execution of John Marion Grant yesterday was the third time in a row that Oklahoma has proven it cannot carry out an execution without causing a gruesome spectacle or making terrible mistakes because it is incapable of following its own procedures. There is a trial scheduled next year to carefully examine whether the drugs Oklahoma uses for executions can accomplish the killing of a prisoner without excessive pain and suffering and whether Oklahoma’s training and procedures are sufficient to support a constitutional execution.”What we saw [Thursday] gives us serious doubts about both issues. The Supreme Court should not have allowed this experimental execution to go forward. And there certainly should be no more such experiments on prisoners before the case is resolved after the trial. What we saw yesterday was the epitome of cruel and unusual punishment.”

In a recent interview with CapitolBeatOK.com, Friend described himself as “a Quaker activist with a law degree.” Friend also said, “I would like to stress along with my Catholic abolitionist friends that we oppose all executions because we are all created in the image of God – and that ultimate dignity of human life means that nothing should result in the taking of a human life, even if it is legal.”

The execution came after a lengthy moratorium on Oklahoma’s use of the Ultimate Sanction (https://www.capitolbeatok.com/reports/denied-clemency-john-marion-grant-is-set-for-execution-on-october-28/).

Disclosure: Patrick B. McGuigan, founder of CapitolBeatOK.com, contributed to this report. McGuigan has four decades of experience in journalism. A member of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, he is also active in the Knights of Columbus — a Catholic organization that is the world’s largest fraternal group. McGuigan is also a dues-paying member of the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (OK-CADP).