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As Public Support Wanes, The U.S. Sees A Rise In Executions

Phillip Hancock on Thursday became the fourth death row inmate executed in Oklahoma this year. Nationally, executions climbed for the second year in a row in 2023, with Texas and Florida accounting for more than half, said a report by the Death Penalty Information Center. The increase comes as public opinion continues to turn against the death penalty, NPR reports. Twenty-four people have been put to death so far in 2023, up from 18 in 2022 and 11 in 2021. Texas continued its streak as the nation's busiest capital punishment state, conducting eight executions. Florida imposed five new death sentences. The remaining court-ordered deaths were limited to three states: Alabama, which killed two inmates after three botched executions last year; Missouri carried out four death warrants, including the first known execution of an openly transgender woman, Amber McLaughlin; In Oklahoma, the state carried out four of its 11 scheduled executions.


Phillip Dean Hancock, 59, received a three-drug lethal injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary for the killings of Robert Jett Jr. and James Lynch Hancock long claimed that he shot and killed Jett, and Lynch, in self-defense after the two men attacked him inside Jett’s home in south Oklahoma City. Hancock’s attorneys claimed at a clemency hearing that Jett and Lynch were members of outlaw motorcycle gangs and that Jett lured Hancock, who was unarmed, to Jett’s home. A female witness said Jett ordered Hancock to get inside a large cage before swinging a metal bar at him. After Jett and Lynch attacked him, his attorneys said, Hancock managed to take Jett’s pistol from him and shoot them both, according to the Associated Press. Hancock’s execution was the last one scheduled in the U.S. for 2023. The next execution scheduled in Oklahoma is James Ryder on Feb. 1. Ryder was sentenced to death for the 1999 killing of Daisy Hallum, 70, and to life without parole for killing her son, Sam Hallum, 38.

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