The state of Oklahoma injected executed convicts with lethal drugs for “disposal purposes,” newly published state records show.
The macabre practice, first reported Tuesday by The Colorado Independent, could tamper with postmortem toxicology results in a way that obscures from public knowledge the amount of pain endured during execution, a revelation that calls into question the state’s methods for administering capital punishment at a time when lethal-injection protocols nationwide are drawing renewed scrutiny.
“Convicts executed in Oklahoma have in some cases died from overdoses of pentobarbital or sodium thiopental, the anesthetic, rather than the second and third injections in the three-drug cocktail, according to documents obtained by The Independent,” reporter Katie Fretland writes. “Records show executioners then injected the remaining two drugs into convicts’ dead bodies for what forms turned over in response to an open-records request refer to as ‘disposal purposes.’ “
State prison officials defended the practice, telling The Independent that it follows appropriate protocol.
Fretland’s reporting also examines email exchanges among Oklahoma officials joking about helping Texas obtain certain lethal drugs in exchange for college football tickets — or for the Texas Longhorns throwing games against the Oklahoma Sooners.
“Looks like they waited until the last minute and now need help from those they refused to help earlier,” an official wrote in January 2011. “So, I propose we help if TX promises to take a dive in the OU-TX game for the next 4 years.”
Separately, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals announced Tuesday it would push back two imminent executions, after the state announced earlier this week it did not possess the drugs necessary to carry out the death sentences. Assistant Attorney General Seth Branham told the Appeals Court the state had undergone “nothing short of a Herculean effort” to carry out the executions of Clayton Locket, scheduled for March 20, and Charles Warner, scheduled for March 27.
Warner and Lockett’s executions have been pushed back to April 22 and 29, respectively.
“We hope that no execution will go forward until we are able to obtain full information about how Oklahoma intends to conduct those executions, including the source of its execution drugs,” Madeline Cohen, an attorney for Warner, said in a statement.
Several states around the country are running out of the drugs they have relied on for decades to carry out death sentences, as European manufacturers are making it increasingly difficult to procure such chemicals if they are intended for a lethal injection.
In response to the growing difficulties, some states have recently considered a return to older methods of execution generally considered less humane. Virginia weighed a bill in January that would have mandated electrocution be used to perform an execution if a lethal injection could not occur. The measure passed the state’s lower chamber before dying in the Senate.
Lawmakers in Wyoming and Missouri have also flirted with a return to the firing squads.
To learn more about the wide-reaching implications of states confronting lethal-injection drug shortages, read National Journal‘s earlier coverage here.
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”