Oklahoma Unable to Obtain Lethal Injection Drugs for Upcoming Executions

(UPDATE: The executions of Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner were stayed until April 22 and 29 respectively.) Oklahoma does not have the necessary drugs to carry out the upcoming executions of Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner, scheduled for March 20 and 26. According to a brief filed on behalf of the Department of Corrections, the department has made a “Herculean effort” to obtain pentobarbital and vecuronium bromide for the lethal injections, but still lacks a supply of either drug. The brief said that a deal to obtain the two drugs from a pharmacy had fallen through, but it did not name the pharmacy. The state’s death penalty statute lists two alternative methods of execution, but they can only be used if lethal injection is ruled unconstitutional. Federal public defender Madeline Cohen said, “It’s stunning news to us that the state does not have the means to carry out a legal execution right now, and it gives us deep cause for concern that they are coupling that revelation with an insistence on shrouding the process in secrecy.” Both Lockett and Warner have argued it is improper for Oklahoma to carry out executions behind a “veil of secrecy,” preventing them from obtaining information about the drugs to be used in their executions.

(B. McBride, “Oklahoma Lacks Drugs for Upcoming Executions,” Associated Press, March 17, 2014). See Lethal Injection and Upcoming Executions.