Since executions resumed in October 2021, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board has undergone repeated shakeups.
The latest came Thursday when Calvin Prince was appointed to replace Scott Williams, who served less than two years.
Any change to the five-member board is significant because it votes on all death row inmate requests for mercy. The governor has the final say but can only act if the board recommends clemency.
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As many as 20 clemency hearings are pending. The next — for convicted murderer Richard Glossip — is set for Thursday but is expected to be delayed.
Prince, of Stonewall, was appointed by Gov. Kevin Stitt.
“Mr. Prince will be a steward of justice for the people of Oklahoma, and I look forward to having him serve,” the governor said in an announcement Friday.
Prince has experience in the judicial system as the administrator of the Pontotoc County Drug Court and other specialty courts. He has been on the board of directors overseeing the Oklahoma Department of Corrections since 2019.
“I count this as an opportunity to serve all citizens of Oklahoma, and to do so with an impartial perspective in a profoundly important process,” he said.
Also new to the board is Richard A. Miller, a former prosecutor and county judge.
Miller, of Madill, was an associate district judge for Marshall County for almost 26 years. He was a prosecutor both before and after his time on the bench.
He ran last year as a Republican for the state House, losing by 36 votes in the primary election. One campaign mailer criticized “liberals,” saying they deny constitutional freedoms.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals appointed him Jan. 4 to serve the next four years.
He replaces Larry Morris, who voted to recommend clemency for death row inmates six times and voted to deny clemency three times.
Stitt this week also reappointed to the parole board Edward Konieczny, a retired Episcopalian bishop, and Cathy Stocker, a retired district attorney.
Konieczny was first appointed a year ago when board Chairman Adam Luck stepped down at the governor’s request because of their differences over the death penalty. The governor is a supporter of capital punishment.
Stocker was appointed in March after another departure.
Richard Smothermon was reappointed as the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s choice in December. The former district attorney has been on the board since July 2021.
Glossip is now scheduled for execution Feb. 16 at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals is expected to reschedule his execution and six others, possibly as early as next week.
Asking the court to reset the next seven executions is Oklahoma’s new attorney general, Gentner Drummond.
He told the court the current pace of executions is unsustainable in the long run because it is “unduly burdening” the Corrections Department and its personnel.
He asked that dates be reset with 60 days between executions, rather than 30. Drummond made the request after personally attending the Jan. 12 execution of Scott Eizember.
Oklahoma has carried out eight executions since resuming lethal injections on Oct. 28, 2021. Another 20 are now set through the end of 2024.
Glossip, 59, became the most high-profile death row inmate in Oklahoma after Stitt spared the life of Julius Jones.
Like Jones, Glossip claims he is innocent.
He is facing execution for the murder of his boss, Oklahoma City motel owner Barry Van Treese. Among the supporters of his innocence claim are state legislators.
If his execution is delayed, his clemency hearing will be rescheduled, too.