lethal injection

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A proposal to ask Oklahoma voters to enshrine the death penalty in the state's nearly 100-year-old constitution sailed easily through the Legislature, but now is facing opposition from groups on opposite ends of the political spectrum.

In addition to various faith and civil rights organizations that traditionally oppose capital punishment, several conservative groups and the newly recognized Oklahoma Libertarian Party also are joining the fight against State Question 776.

OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

Oklahoma, a state with one of the busiest death chambers in the country over the last three decades, will have at least a two-year delay in lethal injections after the governing board of its prison system declined to consider new execution procedures on Tuesday.

Kate Carlton Greer / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

Oklahoma’s top officials say they’re taking time to thoroughly read a scathing 106-page report released Thursday criticizing Oklahoma’s execution protocols.

Gov. Mary Fallin and Department of Corrections Interim Director Joe Allbaugh both released statements acknowledging the 12-member panel of the multicounty grand jury and the process of reviewing capital punishment procedures.

“It is imperative that Oklahoma be able to manage the execution process properly,” Fallin said in a statement Thursday.

OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

A multicounty grand jury released findings regarding Oklahoma’s execution procedures Thursday.

The pharmaceutical company Pfizer said Friday it will move to prevent its drugs from being used in lethal injections.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Despite Oklahoma's bungling of its last three scheduled executions, the state's top law enforcement officer said justice demands that lethal injections resume once his office's probe into the last two drug mix-ups are complete.

Republican Attorney General Scott Pruitt said a grand jury directed by his office is nearing completion of a months-long, closed-door investigation into how the wrong drug was used to execute an inmate in January 2015 and then delivered again to death row for a scheduled lethal injection in September that was halted just before the inmate was to die.

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Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The last execution scheduled in the U.S. for the year is set for Tuesday in Georgia. But capital punishment has gown rare in America, to the point of near extinction.

Even though polls show that 60 percent of the public still supports the death penalty, and even though the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld it as constitutional, the number of executions this year so far is almost the same as the number of fatalities from lightning strikes — 27 executions versus 26 deaths by lightning.

America's death penalty is under scrutiny after a series of botched executions, drug mix-ups and difficulty acquiring lethal injection drugs. Just last month, President Obama called certain parts of capital punishment "deeply troubling."

Some say long waits and repeated last-minute delays are tantamount to torture.

Headlines for Friday, October 30, 2015:

  • Oklahoma is spending nearly $900 million on new turnpikes. (NewsOK)

  • Controversy over executions in Oklahoma leads to the resignation of the State Penitentiary warden. (Oklahoma Watch)

  • A judge gives the green light for Public Service Company to move forward with smart meters. (NewsOK)

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