Vexed OK Execution Law Sailed Through Legislature


An Oklahoma law that cloaks executions in secrecy and sparked a constitutional crisis in the state sailed through the Legislature with scant debate, the Tulsa World reports as part of a series on the lethal injection process. When he introduced the bill in 2011, former Rep. Dan Sullivan described his legislation this way: “It changes the provisions as it relates to carrying out the death penalty. This is a request bill from the Department of Corrections and the Attorney General's Office.”

“It doesn't change who can witness the deal, does it?” one lawmaker asked. Sullivan, R-Tulsa, replied that the bill “doesn't really change that.” Without further debate, House lawmakers passed the bill 94-0. In the Senate, where debates are not videotaped, the measure received three no votes. The bill changed procedures for carrying out the death penalty, deleting specific language about the type of drugs that would be administered in lethal injections. It also provided complete anonymity to execution participants and suppliers. The clause prevents the public from knowing whether doctors, pharmacists, EMTs and others taking part in executions are qualified.

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