Stays of Execution

Posted by Alice Hugh Brown on Sep 27, 2022 9:00:00 AM

None of us want to have a dreaded appointment delayed time and again. Think, then, of the great anxiety caused when a prisoner must repeatedly anticipate his death. Then consider these stays of execution for Richard Glossip:

  1. September 16, 2015
  2. September 30, 2015
  3. July 1, 2017
  4. September 22, 2022
  5. December 8, 2022

Glossip was to be the second person executed this September as part of Oklahoma’s goal to execute 25 death-row inmates within 30 months. However, in August the state granted him another stay of execution, this time to allow new evidence and witnesses to come forth on his behalf.

A stay of execution temporarily stops a planned execution of a court order. In Richard Glossip’s case, it has stayed, or delayed, the carrying out of his execution by lethal injection.

It is hard to imagine what a prisoner goes through when his or her stay is repeated many times. At age 59, Richard Glossip has been on death row for 23 years and had five stays of execution. The first four involved issues of proper drug protocol for lethal injection. His case is now being reviewed by the State Parole Board and the governor. Many of us would consider these actions “cruel and unusual punishment,” which is forbidden by the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.

Since the 1997 murder of motel owner Barry Van Tresse; Glossip, the motel’s manager, has maintained his innocence, and many do believe in his innocence. They claim he was framed by Justin Sneed, a motel employee who committed the murder. Sneed was spared the death sentence in exchange for turning on Glossip. He claimed Glossip paid him to kill Tresse. Sneed has since boasted in prison that he set up Glossip.

After Glossip’s first stay of execution in 2015, he reached out to Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ. He was aware of her determination to free inmates she believes to be innocent. Sister Helen has since served as Glossip’s spiritual advisor and has visited him frequently in prison. Should this last appeal fail, she plans to be an “execution witness” on his behalf this December 8.

Sister Helen told CNN in 2015, “I’m involved in the effort to save his life, because I am convinced he is innocent.” 

“Each day, there is a growing ‘NO’ to the death penalty around the world…. For the Church, this is a sign of hope. … In every legal sentence, there must be a window of hope. Capital punishment offers no justice to victims, but rather encourages revenge. And it prevents any possibility of undoing a possible miscarriage of justice.”

Pope Francis, September prayer intention, August 31, 2022

Reflect: Do issues such as this give you greater concern regarding the reliability of the death penalty? Consider how it affects your view of the death penalty.

Topics: justice, mercy, Catholic social teaching, dignity of each person, social justice, Dignity and the Death Penalty

Alice Hugh Brown

Written by Alice Hugh Brown

Alice Hugh Brown is the author of Dignity and the Death Penalty: Evolution of Catholic Teaching.

Subscribe Here!

Recent Posts

Posts by Tag

See all