Oklahoma Attorney General Sues Biden Admin Over Refusal to Transfer Death Row Inmate to State Custody

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The state of Oklahoma is suing the Federal Bureau of Prisons over the bureau’s refusal to transfer a death row inmate set to be executed in December into Oklahoma’s custody.

John Hanson, 58, was sentenced to death in Tulsa County, Oklahoma, for the 1999 murders of Mary Bowles, 77, and Jerald Thurman, 44.

His death sentence was initially overturned before being reinstated with a deadline of Dec. 15, 2022.

Hanson is currently being held at a federal prison in Pollock, Louisiana, serving a life sentence for numerous federal convictions that predate his state death sentence.

He has a clemency hearing set for Nov. 9, which will be his last chance to secure clemency before being given a lethal injection.

In August, Tulsa County District Attorney Stephen A. Kunzweiler asked that the inmate be transferred to state custody so that his execution could be conducted by the December deadline. But in September, the Bureau of Prisons reportedly responded to the request by saying it was “not in the public’s best interest” to do so.

Specifically, it stated that federal law “authorizes the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to transfer a prisoner who is wanted by a State authority to that State authority’s custody if it is appropriate, suitable, and in the public’s best interest” but that “the Designation and Sentence Computation Center (DSCC) has denied the request for transfer, as it is not in the public’s best interest,” Fox News reported.

Biden Pushes to Abolish Death Penalty

On Monday, Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor and Kunzweiler filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas against the Federal Bureau of Prisons and two directors, asking that Hanson be handed over to Oklahoma authorities.

“I’ve never in my 33 years as a prosecutor encountered this level of refusal to transfer an inmate from one jurisdiction to another,” Kunzweiler told The Associated Press.

President Joe Biden pushed for the death penalty to be abolished during his campaign. In July 2021, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the administration would put federal executions on hold while undertaking a review of the Justice Department’s policies and procedures.

“The Department of Justice must ensure that everyone in the federal criminal justice system is not only afforded the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States but is also treated fairly and humanely,” Garland stated at the time. “That obligation has special force in capital cases.”

In a statement to Fox News, the Bureau of Prisons said: “Based on privacy, safety, and security reasons, we do not comment on inmate’s conditions of confinement, to include transfers or reasons for transfers. Therefore, we have no information to provide.”

The Epoch Times has contacted the Bureau of Prisons for comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Katabella Roberts


Katabella Roberts is a news writer for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States, world, and business news.

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