The death penalty is coming off the books in more and more states. We don't anticipate that happening any time soon in Oklahoma, although carrying out the punishment could become a problem.
The state has in stock only one of the three-drug cocktails it uses in executions. One part of that mixture is the drug pentobarbital, which causes unconsciousness. But pentobarbital has become nigh impossible to get ahold of because the manufacturer no longer sells it to prison systems that intend to use it in executions.
Companies have become loath to the idea of their product being used in this way. That is what forced Oklahoma to begin using pentobarbital in the first place in 2010 — makers of sodium thiopental, which had been used for years, stopped selling it to prison systems.
The Department of Corrections has no executions planned for the remainder of this year, which gives the agency some time to try to find a solution. A spokesman for DOC says there is some pentobarbital available in the marketplace, “it's just a question of whether we can get it.” The agency is considering all options, he said, including trying to get more sodium thiopental.