It's time for Oklahomans to take a serious look at the states criminal justice system was the message today at a state Capitol press conference with families who have suffered from wrongful convictions.
Led by University of Oklahoma sociology professor Susan Sharp, the group of families called on the Legislature to examine why Oklahoma has come across so many exonerations from wrongful convictions.
Oklahoma ranks third in the United States in executions, first in executions per capita and first in exonerations, Sharp said.
The parents of Curtis Edward McCarty, recently released after more than 20 years in jail for murder, were in attendance as well as Christy Sheppard and Peggy Sanders, the cousin and mother of Debra Sue Carter, an Ada murder victim in 1982. Nancy Vollertsen, whose brother Greg Wilhoit, was exonerated and released from Oklahoma's death row in 1993, also spoke.
Sheppard said each of three cases is not just about exonerating the innocent, but the failure to convict the guilty.
Sheppard has been the driving force behind a bill which would create a commission to investigate wrongful conviction cases. Introduced by Sen. Susan Paddock, D-Ada, the bill passed in the Senate in 2006, but was never given a hearing on the House side. Paddock re-introduced the bill again this session, but it was never heard in committee.
"What Christy is proposing we feel is the best idea," Sharp said. "Scott Cooper