Year of Reenactment
(since 1972 suspension)
Year of First Execution
(since reenactment)

1890-1912: hanging

1913-1976: electrocution

1977-present: lethal injection

Current Method
Lethal injection. If state cannot obtain lethal injection drugs or if it is held unconstitutional, state may execute with nitrogen gas; if that method is not possible,
electrocution or firing squad in that order could be used.


Oklahoma has life without parole.  A jury decides the sentence.  The Governor has the authority to grant clemency on the advice of the Pardon and Parole Board. The Governor needs a favorable recommendation to grant clemency.

Oklahoma executed Sean Sellers in 1999.  Sellers was only 16 years of age when he killed his parents.  This was the first execution of a 16-year-old offender in the U.S. in 40 years.  International protests from groups and prominent individuals such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the President of the American Bar Association were unable to stop this execution. 

In 2003, Oklahoma executed another juvenile, Scott Hain, who was 17 at the time of the crime, and had spent 15 years on Oklahoma's death row. A poll taken at the time of Hain's execution showed that over 60% of those surveyed supprted a ban on the execution of juveniles. 

in 1988, Oklahoma tried to execute a 15-year old offender but the U.S. declared that to be unconstitutional in Thompson v. Oklahoma .

In 1999, DNA tests helped free two Oklahomans who had been convicted of murder.  Ronald Williamson and Dennis Fritz were charged with the murder and rape of Deborah Sue Carter in 1982.  They were arrested four years after the crime.  Both were convicted and Williamson received the death penalty.  In 1997, a federal appeals court overturned Williamson's conviction on the basis of ineffectiveness of counsel.  The court noted that the lawyer had failed to investigate and present to the jury the fact that another man had confessed to the crime.  Recently, DNA tests from the crime scene did not match either Williamson or Fritz, but did implicate Glen Gore, a former suspect in the case.  All charges against the two defendants were dismissed on April 15, 1999 and they were released.  In 2001 Phillip Smith was granted clemency when Governor Keating expressed doubt over Smith's guilt.

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