Drug shortage marks new execution roadblock in Oklahoma

Oklahoman Published: March 20, 2014

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.

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