Friday, July 10, 2015

Oklahoma wastes no time in getting back into the execution business

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Oklahoma's execution protocol is not cruel and unusual punishment the state is wasting no time in getting the execution process rolling. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has set execution dates for three death row inmates who unsuccessfully challenged the state’s lethal injection process.
The court ordered condemned inmates Richard Eugene Glossip, Benjamin Robert Cole and John Marion Grant could be executed on Sept. 16, Oct. 7 and Oct. 28, respectively.
Their executions had been on hold since the U.S. Supreme Court said in January that it would consider whether the state’s use of midazolam violated the Constitution’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
On June 29, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld lower court rulings that determined the inmates had failed to prove the use of the drug was unconstitutional.
Evidence presented on behalf of the inmates maintained that midazolam, the first of three drugs utilized during the lethal injection process, was inadequate as a standalone anesthetic required to produce a deep coma-like state prior to the administering of the remaining two drugs.
One of Oklahoma’s execution drug protocols calls for the use of one of three paralytic drugs and potassium chloride in its latter two lethal injection drugs, the latter of which can produce extreme burning sensation if the subject is conscious, according to evidence presented on behalf of the inmates.
Oklahoma officials maintained that midazolam worked adequately as an anesthetic and did not violate the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling authored by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., agreed with a lower court when it determined that “the prisoners failed to establish that Oklahoma’s use of a massive dose of midazolam in its execution protocol entails a substantial risk of severe pain.”
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