Oklahoma Injected Lethal Drugs Into Its Death-Row Convicts”“After They Were Executed

And officials joked about trading drugs with Texas in exchange for college football tickets.

A view of the death chamber from the witness room at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio. 
National Journal
Dustin Volz
March 18, 2014, 12:14 p.m.

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.

What We're Following See More »
STAFF PICKS
These (Supposed) Iowa and NH Escorts Tell All
30 minutes ago
NATIONAL JOURNAL AFTER DARK

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.”
Source:
STATE VS. FEDERAL
Restoring Some Sanity to Encryption
30 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE

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.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
What the Current Crop of Candidates Could Learn from JFK
30 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE

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.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Hillary Is Running Against the Bill of 1992
30 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE

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.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Trevor Noah Needs to Find His Voice. And Fast.
1 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

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.”

Source:
×