POLLOCK, La. (KFOR) – A fight has begun between the state of Oklahoma and the feds over a death row inmate after the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) said it will not release inmate John Hanson back to Oklahoma.
Hanson is currently serving a life sentence in a federal prison in Pollock, Louisiana for a string of armed robberies. However, he was found guilty in Oklahoma for the murder of two people in Tulsa County back in 1999.
The BOP denied Attorney General John O’Connor and Tulsa District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler’s request to transfer Hanson to Oklahoma to await his clemency hearing Nov. 9, as well as his execution scheduled for Dec. 15.
AG O’Connor asked the bureau to reconsider – and asked for a response by October 24, but no one with the BOP replied.
That’s when O’Connor and Kunzweiler filed a lawsuit against the federal prison bureau.
“Never in the history of my 33-plus years of being a prosecutor, if I ever had this kind of difficulty between one jurisdiction and another with regard to the transfer of a prisoner,” said Kunzweiler.
Hanson has been on death row in Oklahoma for more than 20 years, after playing a role in killing two people in Tulsa County back in 1999.
Before his Oklahoma conviction, he was arrested, convicted and sentences to live in federal prison in Louisiana for a string of armed robberies that happened shortly after the murders.
He has been behind bars in Louisiana ever since.
Kunzweiler said he started working on Hanson’s transfer in early August.
“We did the process that we knew we would have to do, said Kunzweiler. “I heard nothing from those folks as to what’s happening.”
He also said after getting no response he took it a step further, contacting Washington, D.C.
“Shortly after that we got a phone call that basically said, ‘hey, listen, we’re not going to transfer them.’ I insisted on something in writing,” said Kunzweiler. “I got a letter that articulated that and essentially said he served time in federal custody in Louisiana and it’s not in the public’s interest.”
Oklahoma reinstated executions back in 2021, around the same time the White House issued a moratorium on federal executions.
“Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?” said Kunzweiler. “We’re trying to get the answers and I’m hopeful. I think there’s some kind of political process going on here behind the scenes. That’s why I want the names. I want to know who’s behind this.”
Kunzweiler said his team was hopeful the lawsuit will move forward quickly, and the execution will stay on schedule, which is set for Dec. 15.