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“The Fire of the 21st Century Is in Play” Oklahoma Judge Declares Three-Drug Death Penalty Method Constitutional


On Monday, a federal judge in Oklahoma ruled that the state’s three-drug method of executing death row inmates is constitutional. Judge Stephen Friot’s decision comes after a federal trial in which lawyers for 28 death row inmates argued that the method causes suffering and violates the Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. Lawyers argued that Midazolam, the first of three drugs to be administered, is insufficient to render a person unable to feel pain.

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According to James Stronski, one of the attorneys, if the inmates were not properly anesthetized, they would be effectively paralyzed; unable to move or speak after the second injection was given, but that they would still be in excruciating pain from the last drug, potassium chloride, which stops the heart.

“If this is allowed to continue…it’s a 21st century bonfire,” he said.

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However, the judge who ruled, citing three previous death penalty rulings, said “the prerequisites for a successful challenge to lethal injection under the Eighth Amendment have been clearly set out by the Supreme Court,” adding that “the inmate plaintiffs are far from clearing the bar set by the Supreme Court.”

State prosecutors also rejected the plaintiff’s argument and said the prescribed dose of 500 milligrams is more than enough to ensure inmates feel no pain.

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Jennifer Moreno, one of the attorneys representing the death row inmates, said she was weighing her options to appeal to the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals, Denver.

“The district court’s decision ignores the overwhelming evidence presented at trial that Oklahoma’s execution protocol, both written and implemented, creates an unacceptable risk that prisoners will experience severe pain and suffering,” he said. Moreno said in a statement.

(With agency contributions)

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Post expires at 7:25pm on Thursday June 16th, 2022