Oklahoma doesn’t have enough of the drugs it uses for executions. So two men who were scheduled to be put to death this month have been given a one-month reprieve that may very well be longer than that.
Clayton Derrell Lockett and Charles Frederick Warner were the beneficiaries of a ruling Tuesday by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. One day earlier, the attorney general’s office revealed that the state is having trouble finding doses of drugs approved for executions.
Given that development, the appeals court pushed the execution dates to April, in order to give the state time to find the needed drugs “or to adopt a new execution protocol.”
Lockett and Warner had been challenging a law that allows the state to keep secret the source of its execution drugs. Those sources are drying up. Some manufacturers won’t sell their products if they’re to be used in executions; compounding pharmacies that provide the drugs can become targets of anti-death penalty groups.
The AG’s office says the state will track “any and all leads” to find the drugs needed. “It’s not a matter of if these punishments will be carried out, but it is only a matter of when,” Attorney General Scott Pruitt said.
When indeed. Lockett is 15 years removed from his murder of a 19-year-old woman. It’s been 17 years since Warner raped and killed an 11-month girl. There’s no guarantee these men will go to the execution chamber in April. Their original challenge of the state’s secrecy law is set for a hearing next week.
Whether it’s lawsuits over the drugs used or secrecy or the potential that the condemned may feel pain during an execution, getting to the finish line continues to be a challenge. All of this for a humane “execution protocol” that was put in place in Oklahoma to avoid using an electric chair.