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, the Oklahoma County District Attorney asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to disqualify Pardons and Parole Board member Adam Luck from any case involving death row inmate Julius Jones. .
In two lengthy motions filed by DA David Prater, he accused Luck and Kelly Doyle of bias, conflict of interest and appearance of impropriety.
Prater highlighted Luck’s work with the nonprofit City Care, which helps homeless people after incarceration. He also highlighted Luck’s position on the national board of directors of the Center for Employment Opportunities, which is linked to the Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform group.
Ultimately, the Oklahoma Supreme Court declined to disqualify Luck from the case.
Now it looks like Luck is resigning from the board.
“At the request of the governor, I am resigning as chairman and member of the Oklahoma Pardons and Parole Board. It has been an honor to work alongside Board members and staff over the past three years. I am proud of what we have achieved and I am convinced that it will continue.
I am grateful to Governor Stitt for giving me the opportunity to play this role. Reviewing thousands of cases over the past three years has deepened my beliefs about what needs to change in Oklahoma. Although he is not in this position, I look forward to continuing this work. “
Luck posted on Twitter
In his resignation letter, Luck said he was stepping down at the request of Governor Stitt who appointed him to the board in 2019.
“When I first started serving on this council, 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 of the five clemency hearings conducted by our counsel. I understand that these beliefs differ from yours and while I can continue my service, I wish to honor your request and allow you to appoint someone more in line with your position,” the letter read.
Following the resignation, Governor Stitt appointed Dr. Edward Konieczny to the board.
Konieczny served as bishop, CEO and president of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma from 2007 to January 2021. He also spent nearly 20 years as a police officer in California.
On Friday, the Oklahoma Conference of Churches issued the following statement, expressing its opposition to the death penalty:
We believe that everyone is a child of God and that all life is sacred. We further believe that God
by Jesus Christ is the final judge of any wrongdoing. When God knows what’s in people
hearts and actions, we humans are unaware of all this knowledge. We recognize the need for a
justice system to ensure order and protection of society, but we also believe that we
should not usurp the authority of God by rendering final and absolute judgment.
The Bible contains seemingly contradictory views on the matter; however, we are confident that
the weight of biblical evidence, especially the New Testament, is against the death penalty. the
The first account of murder in the Bible is the story of Cain and Abel. Cain fears being killed in
retribution for the murder of his brother. God put a mark on Cain so that his life would not be taken and
pronounces “sevenfold vengeance” on anyone who slays Cain (Genesis 4:15).
The language “eye for an eye” and “tooth for a tooth”, which is found three times in the Old Testament, is often
cited as a supporter of the death penalty. However, its purpose was to limit violence, not to encourage
this. Retribution was limited to “an eye for an eye only”. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount,
refers to this Old Testament “law” (Matthew 5:38) but, in the process of clarifying and explaining
full sense of the principle of the law (5.17), exhorts the victim of violence to “return
another cheek” rather than seeking retaliation (5:39-42). Jesus’ interpretation of the so-called Lex
Talionis is that a violent response to wrongdoing is neither necessary nor appropriate. People who
pray “the Lord’s Prayer” asking God to forgive them of their sins as they forgive those who sin against
them, must not only “turn the other cheek” but also not demand “an eye for an eye” (or “a life
for a lifetime”) – even though emotionally they might want to.
We recognize the pain and suffering of victims of crimes for which the death penalty is
usually given. We pray for these victims and support them and their families pastorally. We have also
recognise, on the basis of Christian tradition, the need for civil authorities to protect and
save society. However, we believe that it is possible to do so without having to resort to
Capital punishment. The purpose of the execution (sometimes even of people innocent of the crime
of which they are accused) goes against the principle of restorative justice. No matter
how heinous the crime is, the criminal is always 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 begets
violence, including when perpetrated for apparent “good reasons”. Therefore, on purely biblical grounds
and theological, we oppose the death penalty. We call Oklahoma Criminal Justice
authorities, while continuing to ensure the security of society, to use means other than capital
punishment, like the states of the United States which have already abolished the
death sentence. We also call on the Oklahoma Legislature to introduce and pass a bill abolishing the
death penalty in Oklahoma.
OKLAHOMA CONFERENCE OF CHURCHES
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