Oklahoma Halts Executions Due To Lethal Injection Mix-Up

Oklahoma Stops Execution Due To Drug Mix-Up

Oklahoma was forced to halt at least three different state executions following a major mix-up. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, death row inmate Richard Glossip was granted a last-minute stay due to the discovery that a lethal injection ingredient was missing. Apparently, officials received a shipment of potassium acetate rather than the required potassium chloride.

The ingredients were received by officials at the Department of Corrections on the day of Glossip’s execution. Despite the length of time available for preparation, the mix-up wasn’t noticed until right before Richard was scheduled to die. “They wouldn’t tell me anything,” said Glossip, commenting on the confusing nature of his situation. “Finally, someone came up and said I got a stay.” Richard’s stay was granted by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin with the intention that his execution be rescheduled for November 6.

The New York Times reports that state officials and a Oklahoma appellate court agreed that three executions, including that of Richard Glossip, were be halted indefinitely. The other two inmates who were granted indefinite stays were Benjamin R. Cole and John M. Grant. The request originated from Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office, which is reportedly working to find out why the wrong ingredient was sent in the first place.

In a statement on the decision to halt the executions, Pruitt said the victims’ families, “deserve to know, and all Oklahomans need to know, with certainty, that the system is working as intended.” Weighing heavily on Pruitt’s decision was no doubt the controversial execution of Clayton Lockett in 2014. Lockett reportedly writhed and struggled on his gurney for a period of about 40 minutes before being declared dead.

The Associated Press writes that Lockett’s botched execution led Oklahoma to overhaul its lethal injection procedures. In order to avoid a similar problem, it’s possible the state may hold off on exections until it establishes that the correct ingredients are available and will be used as directed by law. The Oklahoma court has asked for status updates on a monthly basis, “including any proposed adjustments to the execution protocol.”

In truth, this situation may be a sign that the death penalty may soon fall entirely out of favor with the American public. Out of 50 states, 17 have done away with executions; three have a “governor imposed moratorium.” For the states where executions are still legal, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find suppliers willing to provide the ingredients needed for lethal injections. This may force states determined to maintain a death penalty option to revert to methods of execution that some might consider barbarous.

For instance, in March 2015, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed a bill backing the usage of a firing squad as a method of execution. Interestingly, the only other state where this option is currently available is Oklahoma. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, executions in Oklahoma by firing squad will only be made an available option if lethal injections and death by electrocution are both declared unconstitutional.

For those who do support the capital punishment option, the steps taken by Oklahoma demonstrate that there is no blood lust involved, only a desire to make sure that the death penalty be carried out in a lawful and humane manner. It’s still believed by death penalty proponents that in spite of all the protests, lethal injections are the most humanely available option for executing death row inmates.

The indefinite halting of these executions could therefore be seen as a victory for both sides of the debate over prisoner executions in the United States. However, it’s also a sign that the debate over capital punishment will continue for as long as it remains available — and perhaps even if it is somehow no longer available.

Do you agree that Oklahoma should have halted these executions following the ingredient mix-up? Share your thoughts below.

[Image Credit: Photo by Joe Raedle/Newsmakers]