Behind the Walls at McAlester State Prison in Oklahoma-Part One

Welcome back.   Twenty-one-years and counting down to October 28th. It’s the day when Gay Carter ‘s family expects that justice will finally be done at the state prison in McAlester, Oklahoma with the execution of John Marion Grant. Executions have been on hold in Oklahoma for the past seven years following a botched lethal injection but now state officials believe the process has been perfected.

I have applied for a press pass to witness the execution but my thoughts about following the story are up in the air. I frequently turn to my book of epigrams that Waite Phillips and Will Rogers wrote for guidance on difficult issues but searching for their thoughts on capital punishment or justice in a matter of murder so far, I have found nothing to help me.

I’ve seen death before but to be a witness at a man’s execution is something different even though this is a man who was found guilty of a viscous murder that was witnessed by several people. He was also refused clemency by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board and at this point the victim’s family, the Assistant Attorney General Joshua Lockett and the Attorney General John O’Conner all want to see the jury’s death penalty sentence carried out.

With that said this part of the story will focus on Gay Carter who was a state employee in the cafeteria of Connor Correctional Center in Hominy when it happened. Sixty-year-old Gay was described as friendly and outgoing and someone who respected the inmates, always treating them fairly. On November 13, 1998 she was supervising inmate workers in the kitchen when John Grant stabbed her sixteen times resulting in her death. We will never know exactly why he did this because Grant has twice refused to appear before the Pardon and Parole Board and now unless Governor Stitt grants him clemency, he will be injected with a mixture of drugs causing his death.

My research indicates that lethal injection as a form of capital punishment was first developed in the United States but it has since been adopted by other countries. China, Thailand, Guatemala, Taiwan, Nigeria and Vietnam all employ lethal injection in death penalty cases although execution by firing squad or electrocution is not uncommon in[DL1]  some of these countries.

I have also learned that since 1976 Oklahoma has had the highest number of executions per capita of any state in the country and in 2010 was the first state and the first jurisdiction in the world to adopt lethal injection. Since 1990 Oklahoma has carried out one hundred and nine executions and according to the prison information website there are currently forty-four men scheduled to be executed in the near future. There have been a few cases when the Governor has granted clemency to an inmate but Governors rarely reverse the Pardon sand Parole Board. As the Board has already ruled against Mr. Grant any action by Governor Stitt is very unlikely. It is worth noting that the death penalty was approved by almost a 70% majority of Oklahoma voters.

Osage County D.A. Mike Fisher will be attending Grant’s execution and I have contacted him for his thoughts and advice. Look for a follow-up story from him and me after October 28th.

I’ll end this week on a brighter note which is the publication of a new cookbook by Ree Drummond which will be available on October 19th and she is having a book signing in Pawhuska on the 30th.

See ya there or till next time I’ll see ya down the road….



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