Oklahoma Man First To Be Put To Death By U.S. In Almost 2 Decades
A white nationalist and convicted murderer from Oklahoma will be the first person to be put to death by the United States in nearly two decades and in a twist of irony, he’ll be executed using a method his home state found to be unreliable.
Danny L. Lee was convicted in 1996 for the murders of an Arkansas family during a cross-country rampage. Lee and several other white nationalists were attempting to reach the Pacific Northwest to start a whites-only territory. He's currently being held at the Federal Prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.
The Department of Justice said it will resume executions using lethal injection, specifically using the drug Pentobarbital. Oklahoma was forced to replace the powerful barbiturate in its problematic protocol because the drug was and is difficult to obtain. So much so Oklahoma changed drugs to Midazolam which was later at the center of two botched executions and the halting of a third.
In the years since, the state suspended executions. State officials have been working to implement nitrogen gas hypoxia as a means of carrying out executions. The method entails a condemned person inhaling nitrogen until it overtakes levels of oxygen in the body causing death. If implemented it would be the first of its kind in the world. The method however, still does not have a protocol and the state is having trouble finding suppliers and manufacturers. Many fear backlash from other customers.
It was also widely criticized by groups like the non-partisan Death Penalty Information Center.
“The issue just zipped through the legislature without any scientific examination,” DPIC Executive Director Robert Dunham said in January. “So, the question is, is it going to work? Is it something that's going to be acceptable for killing human beings? Nobody really has the answer to that.”
There are currently 47 inmates on death row in Oklahoma and Attorney General Mike Hunter has said he remains committed to seeing their sentences are carried out. In Indiana, Danny Lee is set to be put to death December 9th.