Former Chair of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board Recounts Experience at OK Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty Event before Gov Asked Him to Resign

Via Pix4free

By Citlalli Florez

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (OK-CADP) held its 31st Annual Awards Dinner at the New Covenant Christian Church in Oklahoma City last week, and the keynote speaker was Adam Luck, who recounted his experience as chair of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board before resigning, under pressure from the governor.

Luck described how his job required him to spend “hours and hours…days and days getting ready for meetings.” There were monthly envelopes which contained the materials needed for the meetings. The stories which he had read showed him the “brokenness and the pain” of those in the system. He said he would continuously hear such stories over the next three years.

On his first day on the job, Luck said he got a call from the District Attorney. He described the caller by stating that they “did not like” what Luck was doing and that he should stop.

“They did not like that I was sharing my personal afflictions, they did not like that I was sharing information for cases we were reviewing.” Luck apologized before telling the caller that he would not stop.

Luck proceeded to read from a journal he kept during the time he was chair of the Pardon and Parole Board.

During the speech, Luck described how the District Attorney began “a concerted effort to remove me and one other member” of the Pardon and Parole Board. He received requests that he excuse himself from consideration of more cases brought before the Board.

Finally he said that “having one of the nation’s largest incarceration rates in the world is not now, nor has it ever been, acceptable.”

He pointed to Board decisions which resulted in the “largest commutation process in history.” Luck also admitted to voting “yes” for clemency in all five death penalty clemency hearings he was involved in.

He also became the target of grand jury investigations and was abandoned by his attorney before a legal hearing. He had to contact another attorney who had to stay up all night to prepare arguments for the hearing. They ended up winning at state court.

The keynote speaker also recounted how he had received an invitation to meet with the governor, who asked Luck why he was voting for clemency. They both explained their points of view and Luck had told the governor that he was willing to resign if the governor wanted him to, which the governor later did.

Luck sent in his letter of resignation. When the governor’s staff asked him to include his views on the death penalty, he did so. The letter was accepted without grand jury indictments.

In his speech, the speaker continued, saying “the system is not broken; it is operating exactly the way it was intended to operate… These things don’t change unless people who don’t have to be there are there.”

Luck concluded that it was all about one thing, “power and how hard the people who have the power in Oklahoma work to maintain it and to keep it, and how much this system penalizes people who aren’t like them, don’t think like them and want to see things differently.”

He promises to “speak clearly about the injustices I have seen personally, to speak clearly about the convictions that I came to when I was the one who had to make a vote on the life of another human being.”

According to Luck, his goal is to continue doing such work for as long as the death penalty is still available and legal in the U.S. and beyond.

About The Author

Citlalli Florez is a 4th year undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently majoring in Legal Studies, Chicana/o Studies, and Art Practice. She intends to attend law school in the future with the purpose of gaining skills to further serve her community.

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