Oklahoma Secures New Doses of Execution Drug
OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma Attorney General's office says it has averted a crisis when it comes to executing death row inmates, at least for now.
The state was down to one dose of the drug pentobarbital, which is used in Oklahoma lethal injections. But Attorney General Scott Pruitt announced Wednesday afternoon that it has secured 20 more doses of the drug.
The news comes as the shortage put all executions in Oklahoma in jeopardy including the next one. Michael Hooper is scheduled to be executed August 14 for killing his girlfriend and two children. But Tuesday, his attorney filed a lawsuit against the state alleging if the last dose of lethal injection drug didn't work and the state didn't have a backup that would be cruel and unusual punishment.
Now it appears to no longer be the issue.
"I think the victims and the folks that we represent are relieved," said Pruitt.
Oklahoma was able to secure the drug where states such as Texas couldn't. Texas announced Tuesday it will begin using only one drug.
Other states, such as Missouri, plan to use protocol, the anesthetic blamed for Michael Jackson's death, to do single-drug executions.
But death penalty opponents claim using just one drug is less humane after an inmate in Arizona, who received a single drug, shook for several seconds before dying. Oklahoma, however, won't have to worry about these issues for several years.
"I just think we were diligent, we were committed to making sure we carried out our responsibility," said Pruitt.
With 63 inmates on Oklahoma's death row, the Department of Corrections will still have to come up with a plan B. In November, a law went into effect that allows the DOC some leeway.
"That leaves us some room to either use a one drug protocol or the three drug protocol that we use and it doesn't specify which drug," said DOC spokesperson Jerry Massie.
"Suffice it to say, as Attorney General, we are going to be diligent today preparing for the next round to make sure we don't' face it in the acute way we have in the last several months," said Pruitt.
The year-long effort to locate more doses was conducted by the Attorney General's Office and the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. The new supply came just in time before the shortage of pentobarbital affected the agencies' abilities to carry out capital punishment sentences by lethal injection.
Pruitt says state law prevents him from saying where he got the drugs.