State officials announce plans to resume execution by lethal injection

OKLAHOMA CITY – State officials including Gov. Kevin Stitt, Attorney General Mike Hunter and Department of Corrections (DOC) Director Scott Crow announced today that the state has found a reliable supply of drugs to resume executions by lethal injection.

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The state will use an updated version of the previous protocol that includes recommendations by the 2016 multicounty grand jury. The three drugs that will continue to be used are: midazolam, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride. 

Additionally, officials with the Attorney General’s Office have complied with the notice provisions of the joint stipulations, thus enabling the state to request execution dates for inmates who have exhausted their appeals after 150 days.

“It is important that the state is implementing our death penalty law with a procedure that is humane and swift for those convicted of the most heinous of crimes,” Gov. Stitt said. “Director Crow and Attorney General Mike Hunter have worked diligently and thoroughly to create a path forward to resume the death penalty in Oklahoma, and the time has come to deliver accountability and justice to the victims who have suffered unthinkable loss and pain.”

Although the state previously announced the move to nitrogen hypoxia as the preferred method of execution, the 2015 law allowing the state to develop a method for nitrogen hypoxia specifically states death sentences shall be carried out by nitrogen hypoxia only if the drugs for lethal injections are unavailable.

“My commitment to Oklahomans who remain tormented by the loss of their loved ones has been that we would go any route necessary to resume executions as expeditiously as possible within the rule of law,” Attorney General Hunter said. “They have endured enough through the decades of waiting on the lengthy appeals process and the state’s attempts to get the protocol right. I appreciate Director Crow and his team for their tireless search to acquire the drugs from a reliable source. Because of these efforts, we can finally tell the victims their wait for justice is nearly over.”  

The updated protocol includes several of the recommendations by the 2016 multicounty grand jury, including a verification of execution drugs at every step in the process, more training for the execution teams, among others.

Also, consistent with the multicounty grand jury recommendations, the DOC continues to work on a protocol that will allow the state to proceed by execution through nitrogen hypoxia when appropriate.

“Under this enhanced protocol, Oklahoma Department of Corrections stands ready to resume executions recommended by a jury of peers, sentenced by an impartial judge, and mandated by law,” Director Crow said. “I thank Governor Stitt and Attorney General Hunter for their leadership, which helped create this improved process. Additionally, I am deeply grateful for the patience of victims’ families and loved ones as we worked to ensure Oklahoma’s executions resume and are carried out in a meticulous manner.”

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