Judge Tosses Oklahoma’s Death Penalty Law

 

I know one new bill I’m probably going to be voting on this year.

Oklahoma County District Judge Patricia Parrish has ruled the state’s death penalty law unconstitutional. Judge Parrish found that Oklahoma’s law violated due process because it blocked inmates from learning the names of the companies that manufacture the drugs used in executions.

Drugs used in executions are becoming more scarce because overseas companies refuse to make them due to their objections to the death penalty, and domestic manufacturers want to avoid the controversy surrounding the issue. Attorneys for death row inmates had requested information about the drug manufacturers as part of discovery for what sounds like a potential appeal.

I would guess that there will be legislation to deal with this before the House this year. I am opposed to the death penalty, which makes me part of a tiny minority in the Oklahoma legislature. In fact, I am the only Oklahoma legislator who opposes abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia and the death penalty. I guess that makes me the only 100% pro life member of the Oklahoma legislature.

My advice to Oklahoma’s death row inmates is to be careful what you wish for. If the drugs for “painless” executions become unavailable, our Oklahoma legislators are perfectly capable of restoring older methods of execution such as the electric chair, firing squads or hanging.

From the Associated Press:

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma judge ruled the state’s execution law unconstitutional Wednesday because its privacy provision is so strict that it that prevents inmates from finding out the source of drugs used in executions, even through the courts.

After condemned inmates gasped or complained they were “burning” during executions in January, inmates Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner asked Oklahoma prison officials who was making the drugs that would kill them and whether the material was pure.

However, under state law, no one is allowed to disclose the source of drugs used in a lethal injection — even if an inmate sues and seeks the information as part of the discovery process. Oklahoma County District Judge Patricia Parrish said that prevents the inmates from exercising rights under the Constitution.

“I think that the secrecy statute is a violation of due process because access to the courts has been denied,” Parrish ruled.

The supply of drugs used in lethal injections has dried up in recent years as European manufacturers object to their use in executions and U.S. companies fear protests or boycotts.

Some death-penalty states have sought to buy or trade drugs with other states, and some have turned to compounding pharmacies that face less scrutiny from federal regulators. Many, like Oklahoma, made the process secret, too, to protect their suppliers.

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