March 2, 2024

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Oklahoma Executes Phillip Hancock Against Parole Board’s Recommendation: Death Penalty Debate Resurfaces

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Oklahoma executed Phillip Hancock for the 2001 double murder of Robert and Glenda Baker, despite a recommendation from the Pardon and Parole Board to commute his sentence to life in prison without parole. The execution reignited the debate over the death penalty in Oklahoma and the United States.
Oklahoma

Oklahoma Executes Phillip Hancock Against Parole Board's Recommendation: Death Penalty Debate Resurfaces

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections executed Phillip Hancock for the 2001 double murder of Robert and Glenda Baker. Hancock’s execution comes despite a 3-2 recommendation from the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board to commute his sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Hancock was convicted of the Bakers’ murders in 2003 and sentenced to death. He maintained his innocence throughout his appeals process and argued that he acted in self-defense. Hancock’s supporters also argued that he was a model prisoner and had been rehabilitated during his time in prison.

Governor Kevin Stitt, who is a Republican, ultimately decided to override the Pardon and Parole Board’s recommendation and allow Hancock’s execution to proceed. Stitt said in a statement that he had “carefully considered” the board’s recommendation but ultimately decided that Hancock’s crime was “too heinous” to warrant clemency.

Hancock’s execution is the fourth in Oklahoma this year and the 11th since the state resumed executions in 2021 following a six-year hiatus. Oklahoma has executed more inmates per capita than any other state since the 1976 reinstatement of the death penalty.

Hancock’s execution is likely to reignite the debate over the death penalty in Oklahoma and the United States. Proponents of the death penalty argue that it is a just punishment for certain crimes, while opponents argue that it is cruel and unusual punishment and that it is applied unfairly.

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