Oklahoma House approves bill unplugging the electric chair from future death sentences

2/16/2017 - The Oklahoma House recently approved legislation that eliminates the electric chair as an acceptable method of execution for individuals sentenced to death. Oklahoma hasn't utilized death by electrocution in more than 50-years (1966).

House Bill 1679, sponsored by Representative Harold Wright (R),  clarified which methods of execution are permissible in our state; lethal injection, firing squad, nitrogen hypoxia and any other method not prohibited by the U.S. constitution.

The Bill was passed 74-22 in support. The Bill has now been sent to the Senate for approval.

Wright said the main motivator to eliminating the use of the electric chair was the fact that Oklahoma is not in possession of a working chair and the costs associated with building and maintaining one is not fiscally responsible. Oklahoma's only electric chair was built in 1915, sits in storage and is inoperable.

Currently only seven other U.S. states allow death by electrocution.

Oklahoma has the highest per-capita rate of executions in the country with 112 since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.

Oklahoma's electric chair, nicknamed 'Old Sparky', was previously used to execute 82 individuals from 1915 to 1966.

 'Old Sparky' - Photo by Paul B. Southerland, The Oklahoman

'Old Sparky' - Photo by Paul B. Southerland, The Oklahoman