Press Release


Oklahoma City, OK -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma's Anti-Death Penalty Project (ADPP) commends Governor Brad Henry for granting clemency to Kevin Young. Young was sentenced to die in Oklahoma County for the murder of Joseph Sutton in May of 1996. The Pardon and Parole Board recommended clemency on June 9, and on July 24, Henry bravely commuted Young's death sentence to life without parole. It is only his second time to grant clemency since taking office. The members of the ACLU of Oklahoma's ADPP believe this is a step in the right direction for abolishing the death penalty in Oklahoma.

Members of the ADPP were present when the Pardon and Parole Board made the decision to grant clemency for Young. Four jurors that originally sentenced Young to die pleaded to the Board to grant him clemency. Young's family explained how he was an asset in their lives by teaching the children in their family that living a life of crime will lead to life in prison. Due to Oklahoma laws, Young was not able to appear in person at his hearing but was able to testify via television. He said he was truly sorry to Sutton's family for any pain he had caused them. He also said choosing to rob the steak house was the worst decision of his life, and he fired his weapon after he was shot in the abdomen, therefore, he couldn't say if he shot Sutton or his accomplice did.

The ADPP is committed to abolishing the death penalty in Oklahoma. This is done through continuing public education, lobbying efforts, and litigation. In the United States, a staggering 129 people have been exonerated for crimes they did not commit, eight in Oklahoma. For more information, visit