Clemency letter for Scott Hain
March 26, 2003
The Honorable Brad Henry
Office of the Governor
State Capitol Building
2300 N. Lincoln Boulevard, Room 212
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Dear Governor Henry:
I am writing on behalf of Scott Allen Hain, who is currently scheduled for execution on April 3, 2002, to request that you commute his death sentences to two life sentences. Scott was 17-years-old at the time that he and his co-defendant, 21-years-old Robert Wayne Lambert, killed Laura Sanders and Michael Houghton. Scott and Robert should receive harsh punishment, however, death is not an appropriate sentence because of Scott's youth at the time of the crime, which was exacerbated by the childhood abuse he received. Two life sentences is a very harsh punishment and will serve the sentencing goals of retribution and incapacitation.
Scott should not be executed because he was a youth at the time of the crime.
Given Scott's age at the time of the crime, his execution would be contrary to American standards of justice, fairness and decency, which punish according to the degree of culpability and reserve the death penalty for the ""worst of the worst"" offenders. Adolescence is a transitional period of life when cognitive abilities, emotions, judgment, impulse control, and identity are still developing. Recent discoveries in neuroscience reveal that the brain continues to develop into the early twenties, with these aforementioned executive functions developing last. Indeed, immaturity is the reason we do not allow those under eighteen to assume the basic responsibilities and privileges of adulthood, such as military service, voting, entering into contracts, serving on juries, or making medical decisions. For all these reasons, a seventeen-year-old cannot meet the ""worst of the worst"" standard.
Public opinion is against executing juveniles. A May 2002 Gallup poll surveying the entire country also found that 69% opposed executing juveniles. A 2001 University of Chicago study found that 66% opposed the death penalty for juveniles and a Princeton Survey Research Associates poll found that 62% opposed executing juveniles. A Kentucky study also found the same 69% opposition that the Gallup poll found.
World opinion is against executing juveniles. In the last three years, only four countries in the world have executed juvenile offenders within the last three years: the United States, Iran, Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. All but the United States have since renounced executing juvenile offenders; and Texas is the state that executes the overwhelming majority of juvenile offenders.
Scott should not be executed because he was severely abused as a child.
The lack of impulse control and fully developed cognitive abilities that are present for all juveniles, was exacerbated for Scott by a childhood of abuse and criminal indoctrination that put him on track to commit these crimes.
Scott was raised in an unstable home with two severely alcoholic parents, Don and Aleta Hain, who spent more time at the local bar than at home; and when at home, drank until they passed out. Scott's sister Shawn testified that their mother was intoxicated every night leaving the children to fend for themselves - preparing their own dinner, doing homework and putting themselves to bed. Scott failed the first and fifth grades before passing and repeated the sixth grade several times. He dropped out of school in seventh grade.
Don introduced Scott to criminal behavior at an early age. At his father's request, Scott stayed in a bar until it closed and then used a screwdriver to pop open the door and let his father in. The two drank beer and stole money. Another time, his father took advantage of him by finding him work in a warehouse and devising a plan where Scott would steal items from the warehouse, which his father would take to sell in a neighborhood bar. At age 9, his father introduced him to marijuana, which Scott later began to smoke on a regular basis.
Not only did Don and Aleta fail to provide him with moral guidance, they also subjected him to abuse, beating him with a wooden paddle. When Scott was in third grade, a sixteen-year-old babysitter sexually abused Scott while his father watched. His father did not stop the abuse.
Scott should not be executed because he did not have a history of violence.
Scott had no history of violence until meeting Robert Lambert, who was four years older than him. This does not excuse Scott's culpability, but it is another reason why a life sentence instead of a death sentence is a more appropriate punishment.
We, as a society and a legal system, have deemed that juveniles are different from adults. Therefore, it is contradictory to subject them to the ultimate adult punishment. For the aforementioned reasons, I urge you to commute Scott Hain's sentence. While Scott's crime is horrible, justice can be served, and the public protected, without the state taking his life.
Diann Rust-Tierney, Director Joann Bell, Executive Director ACLU Capital Punishment Project ACLU of Oklahoma
Rachel King, State Strategies Coordinator
ACLU Capital Punishment Project