OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A member of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board has resigned from his position on the board at the request of the governor.
Last year, Oklahoma County District Attorney asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to disqualify Pardon and Parole Board member Adam Luck from dealing with any matters involving death row inmate Julius Jones.
In two lengthy motions filed by DA David Prater, he accused Luck and Kelly Doyle of having bias, a conflict of interest and appearance of impropriety.
Prater pointed out Luck’s work with the nonprofit City Care, which helps the homeless after they’ve been incarcerated. He also pointed to Luck’s position on the national board of the Center for Employment Opportunities, which is connected to the group Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform.
Ultimately, the Oklahoma Supreme Court refused to disqualify Luck from the case.
Now, it seems that Luck is resigning from the board.
“At the Governor’s request I am resigning as the Chair and as a member of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. It has been an honor to work alongside the board members and staff over the last three years. I am proud of what we accomplished and I am confident that will continue.
I am grateful to Governor Stitt for the opportunity to serve in this role. Reviewing thousands of cases over the last three years has deepened my convictions about what needs to change in Oklahoma. While it will not be in this position, I do look forward to continuing this work. “Luck posted on Twitter
In his resignation letter, Luck said he was resigning at the request of Gov. Stitt who appointed him to the board in 2019.
“When I began service on this board there was a moratorium on executions in the state of Oklahoma. As we resumed executions in October I came to the conclusion that guided my votes during the five clemency hearing our board conducted. I understand these beliefs differ from yours and while I could continue my service I wish to honor your request and allow you to appoint an individual more aligned with your position,” the letter read.
Following the resignation, Gov. Stitt appointed Dr. Edward Konieczny to the board.
Konieczny served as the bishop, CEO and president of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma from 2007 to Jan. 2021. He also spent nearly 20 years as a police officer in California.
The Oklahoma Conference of Churches Friday issued the following statement Friday, stating their opposition to the death penalty:
We believe all people are children of God and that all life is sacred. We further believe that God
through Jesus Christ is the ultimate judge of all wrongdoing. While God knows what is in people’s
hearts and actions, we humans are not privy to all such knowledge. We recognize the need for a
system of justice to provide for order in and protection of society, but we also believe that we
should not usurp the authority of God in rendering final and absolute judgment.
The Bible contains some apparently conflicting views on the issue; however, we are persuaded that
the weight of the biblical evidence, especially the New Testament, is against the death penalty. The
first account of murder in the Bible is the story of Cain and Abel. Cain fears that he will be killed in
retribution for murdering his brother. God puts a mark on Cain so his life will not be taken and
pronounces a “seven-fold vengeance” upon anyone who would kill Cain (Genesis 4:15).
The “eye for eye” and “tooth for tooth” language, found three times in the Old Testament, is often
cited as support for the death penalty. However, its purpose was to limit violence, not encourage
it. Retribution was restricted to “only an eye for an eye.” Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount,
refers to this Old Testament “law” (Matthew 5:38) but, in the process of clarifying and explaining
the full meaning of the principle behind the law (5.17), exhorts the victim of violence to “turn the
other cheek” rather than seek retaliation (5:39-42). Jesus’ interpretation of the so-called Lex
Talionis is that a violent response to wrongdoing is neither required nor appropriate. People who
pray “the Lord’s Prayer” asking God to forgive them their sins as they forgive those who sin against
them, should not only “turn the other cheek” but also not demand “an eye for an eye” (or “a life
for a life”)—even though emotionally they might want to do so.
We acknowledge the pain and suffering of the victims of the crimes for which the death penalty is
usually given. We pray for these victims and support them and their families pastorally. We also
acknowledge, on the basis of Christian tradition, the necessity of civil authorities to protect and
safeguard society. We believe, however, that it is possible to do so without having to resort to
capital punishment. The finality of execution (sometimes even of persons innocent of the crime
with which they have been charged) runs counter to the principle of restorative justice. No matter
how heinous the crime, the criminal is still a person created in the image of God, and the potential
recipient of redemption and forgiveness.
“Renunciation of violence” is a central ethical precept of the New Testament. Violence begetsOKLAHOMA CONFERENCE OF CHURCHES
violence, including when perpetrated for seemingly “good reasons.” Therefore, on purely biblical
and theological grounds, we oppose the death penalty. We call on the Oklahoma Criminal Justice
authorities, in continuing to ensure the safety of society, to use means other than capital
punishment, following the example of those states in the U.S.A. which have already abolished the
death penalty. We also call on the Oklahoma Legislature to introduce and pass a bill abolishing the
death penalty in Oklahoma.