Oklahoma Hopes to Resume Executions This Year

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Oklahoma will use the same drugs as in previous lethal injection executions when it resumes the death penalty, possibly as soon as later this year, reports The Frontier. Gov. Kevin Stitt, along with Attorney General Mike Hunter and Department of Corrections Director Scott Crow, announced an updated death penalty protocol that puts the state one step closer to resuming executions. More than five years have passed since the last execution, when convicted child killer Charles Warner, 47, was executed with the wrong drug. State officials have touted a switch to a new form of execution, nitrogen hypoxia, in which an inmate would have their oxygen replaced with an inert gas, rendering them unconscious and quickly dead.

The state hasn’t abandoned the nitrogen hypoxia process, which would be used only if the requisite drugs were not available for lethal injection. Hunter offered no hints at where the drugs — midazolam, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride — have been found. State law exempts officials from having to disclose who is providing the lethal mixture. Former corrections director Joe Allbaugh said he had been on the phone with “seedy individuals” in the “back streets of the Indian subcontinent” in attempts to find the drugs. Dale Baich, an attorney for death row inmates, said he planned to continue “the ongoing litigation challenging the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s protocol.” With the announcement of the new protocol, a court-ordered 150-day stay on the death penalty began on Wednesday. Hunter said that when the stay ends in late July, the state could begin scheduling executions for 26 inmates who’ve exhausted their appeals. Challenges by defense attorneys will likely delay that process. There are 47 inmates on death row.

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