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Oklahoma Obtains 20 More Doses of Pentobarbital, Execution Drug

According to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, the state has obtained 20 new doses of the execution drug pentobarbital, and just in time to stave off a federal lawsuit and put an inmate accused of murder to death. Pentobarbital is short-acting barbituate that was first synthesized in 1928. The medication has been approved or considered …

According to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, the state has obtained 20 new doses of the execution drug pentobarbital, and just in time to stave off a federal lawsuit and put an inmate accused of murder to death. Pentobarbital is short-acting barbituate that was first synthesized in 1928. The medication has been approved or considered for use in capital punishment in a number of U.S. states, including Oklahoma, although the drug’s manufacturer has expressed displeasure at this particular use of its product. On July 1, 2011, pentobarbital maker, Lundbeck, announced it would block sales of the medication to U.S. prisons that carry out the death penalty. The state of Oklahoma has executed a total of 176 men and three women at the Oklahoma state penitentiary between 1915 and 2011, with the first execution by lethal injection taking place in 1990 for murder in the first degree.

Oklahoma Inmate Sentenced to Death

Pruitt announced Wednesday that his office, with help from the Department of Corrections, tried for a year to get their hands on more dosages of pentobarbital, an anesthetic used as the first step in Oklahoma’s three-drug lethal injection combination. Before the announcement last Wednesday, the state had only one remaining dose of pentobarbital, which posed a problem for future inmates sentenced to the death penalty. Oklahoma death row inmate Michael Hooper filed a federal lawsuit last week, claiming that his execution, set for August 14, could result in cruel and unusual punishment if there were any problems with the single dose of the anesthetic. With the state’s acquisition of 20 new doses of the drug, Hooper’s concern is no longer valid, and his execution for the December 7, 1993 killing of his ex-girlfriend and her 5- and 3-year-old children stands.

Oklahoma and the Death Penalty

The current death penalty law in Oklahoma was enacted in 1977 by Oklahoma Legislature, and the method used to carry out the execution is lethal injection, although electrocution was the original method used. In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled death by execution unconstitutional, and the state adopted lethal injection as the alternative. In fact, Oklahoma was the first state and the first jurisdiction in the world to adopt lethal injection as a method of execution. Oklahoma is also one of the leading states in the number of performed executions – behind only Texas and Virginia – and is the leading U.S. state in the number of executions per capita. If you have been accused of murder or another serious crime in Oklahoma, contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Oklahoma Legal Center today. Having a qualified criminal defense lawyer on your side can literally mean the difference between life and death.

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