MCALISTER, Okla. (KFOR) – Several protestors fighting against the death penalty arrived at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary Thursday afternoon, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the stay of execution for John Grant.
“This up and down, topsy turvy that puts the victim’s families, the family of the prisoner, the prison and the prison guards, and everybody through this roller coaster of emotion and trauma, and it’s unnecessary,” said Abraham Bonowitz, the director of Death Penalty Action Plan.
Demonstrators against the death penalty lined up outside the State Penitentiary in McAlister, armed with signs, songs and prayers. The group appeared to grow in numbers minutes after the Supreme Court overturned a stay of execution, giving the state the green light to execute John Grant.
“This guy’s been waiting what? A couple of decades now for his execution, and what is it going to change? Nothing,” said Bonowitz.
Grant was convicted of murdering Gay Carter, a kitchen supervisor at the Dick Connor Correctional Facility, who Grant stabbed 16 times in a broom closet in 1998.
He was executed at 4:21 p.m. Thursday.
The Oklahoma chapter of the Death Penalty Action Plan told KFOR a better punishment would be locking the door and throwing away the key.
“We are safe from people who have done awful things who are no longer capable of doing awful things with imprisonment. It’s what we do the mass majority of time with killers,” he said.
The demonstrators said the game of appeals that usually occurs during death penalty trials hurts victims, criminals and families on all sides.
“You’re never going to have closure. You’re never going to bring your loved one back. There’s always going to be that empty chair at the table, but at least you don’t have to have that scab ripped off every time an appeal comes up, every time you know an execution comes up,” Bonowitz told News 4.
The Archbishop of Oklahoma City, the Rev. Paul S. Coakley, appears to agree. He issued the following statement:
“The unnecessary rush to restart executions in Oklahoma by the governor and attorney general is concerning and disappointing. Throughout our nation’s history we have justified the killing or mistreatment of our neighbors by lessoning their value as human beings – whether it is the unborn, aged, native populations, African Americans or those imprisoned. All human life is sacred. No matter how serious the crime committed, we do not forfeit the inherent dignity bestowed upon us by our Creator. There are other ways to administer just punishment without resorting to lethal measures. May God guide us as we work to end the use of the death penalty and build a society that truly chooses life in all situations. May He bring comfort to the family and friends of Gay Carter, and have mercy on the soul of John Grant.”THE REV. PAUL S. COAKLEY, ARCHBISHOP OF OKLAHOMA CITY
“There are some crimes that are so reprehensible that that is the ultimate option,” said Pam Carter, in an exclusive News 4 interview with this week.
Pam Carter is Gay Carter’s daughter.
Carter told News 4 she believes the punishment is just.
“It is about keeping another person safe. I want to make sure that this does not happen to anybody else, that nobody has to go through what I and my family has had to go through,” said Carter.