Ahead of the scheduled execution of Oklahoma inmate Richard Glossip, his supporters are pleading with Gov. Mary Fallin (R) to stop what they say is the death of an innocent man.
Now, actress Susan Sarandon has joined the fight to save Glossip's life before he is supposed to be put to death on Sept. 16 -- and is criticizing Fallin for not intervening.
"The governor of Oklahoma is just a horrible person -- and a woman, so it's even more discouraging," Sarandon said in an interview with U.K.'s Sky News that was released Thursday.
"He's clearly innocent," Sarandon said of Glossip. "Once a mistake is made in a judicial system, people just do not want to admit that a mistake has been made, so it becomes impossible case, after case, after case to readdress them."
Glossip has sat on death row for 17 years after being convicted in a murder plot against his boss, motel owner Barry Van Treese. Though Glossip did not kill Van Treese -- a fact that has never been disputed by prosecutors -- he was given a death sentence. Justin Sneed, the motel handyman who actually committed the murder, claimed it was Glossip's idea. For his testimony against Glossip, he received a plea deal of life without parole.
"Richard's case is so typical," Sarandon told Sky News. "Bad representation, two trials that were ridiculous, no physical evidence. He's put there by a snitch who actually did kill the person, and then the snitch has life and this guy is being put to death on the 16th."
Fallin, meanwhile, remains unswayed.
"Is the governor going to undo decades of legal actions -- that dozens of jurors and judges have decided -- because Susan Sarandon is calling on the governor?” Alex Weinz, Fallin’s communications director, told The Huffington Post on Thursday. "The answers is first, [Fallin] doesn’t have the authority, and second, she wouldn’t even if she could."
Weinz said the governor has the authority to grant a 60-day stay of execution but not to grant clemency or stop the execution of a prisoner.
Fallin, who picks three of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board's five members, cannot do much more than express a desire for the parole board to grant an inmate another clemency hearing, according to Weinz. The governor does not have the power to order the board to grant the hearing.
Further, Weinz said, the governor can only grant clemency to an inmate if recommended by the pardon and parole board; she also has the authority to ignore a recommendation for clemency.
"Richard Glossip has had his day in court,” Weinz said.
Sarandon comes to the Glossip case through Sister Helen Prejean, who penned Dead Man Walking,
a memoir about accompanying inmates to their executions. Sarandon won a 1996 Academy Award
for portraying Prejean in the book's film adaptation.
Prejean has been Glossip's spiritual adviser and plans to accompany him to his execution if the fight to save him is unsuccessful. Both Prejean and Sarandon are set to appear Friday on CNN to discuss Glossip's case.
"It's never because of some kind of consciousness-raising that these things change. It's always because of some kind of embarrassment," Sarandon told Sky News. "So this is where public opinion can make a difference. This is where having letters sent to the governor can make a difference."
This story has been updated with new comments from Fallin's office that clarify the governor's role in granting clemency.
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