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The synthetic painkiller fentanyl has been the driving force behind the nation’s opioid epidemic, killing tens of thousands of Americans last year in overdoses. Now two states want to use the drug’s powerful properties for a new purpose: to execute prisoners on death row.
As Nevada and Nebraska push for the country’s first fentanyl-assisted executions, doctors and death penalty opponents are fighting those plans. They have warned that such an untested use of fentanyl could lead to painful, botched executions, comparing the use of it and other new drugs proposed for lethal injection to human experimentation.
States are increasingly pressed for ways to carry out the death penalty because of problems obtaining the drugs they long have used, primarily because pharmaceutical companies are refusing to supply their drugs for executions.
The situation has led states such as Florida, Ohio and Oklahoma to turn to novel drug combinations for executions. Mississippi legalized nitrogen gas this s…

'Google it': Oklahoma execution ordered to go ahead despite wrong drugs being delivered

Google it!
The governor of Oklahoma's top lawyer is out of a job after insisting that a state execution proceed despite prison officials receiving the wrong drug for carrying it out, while telling a deputy attorney general alerting him to the problem to "Google it."

A grand jury report found that when a deputy attorney general learned that potassium acetate would be used in the September 30, 2015 execution of Richard Glossip instead of potassium chloride, she contacted the governor's general counsel for further instruction.

The deputy attorney general was then assured that "potassium chloride and potassium acetate were basically 1 in the same drug, advising deputy attorney general to 'Google it,'" the grand jury report said, according to the Associated Press.

Fallin's general counsel, Steve Mullins, also told the deputy attorney general that she could not request a stay of vacation, because "it would look bad for the state of Oklahoma because potassium acetate had already been used in (Charles) Warner's execution."

Following Mullins' suggestion, the deputy attorney general actually did Google it, and learned that potassium chloride and potassium acetate were, in fact, not 1 in the same. As a result, Governor Fallin issued a stay of execution, and Glossip remains on death row for the murder of a motel owner in 1997.

Richard Glossip
Richard Glossip
Mullins resigned from his position in February and has not commented on the grand jury's report.

"It is unacceptable for the governor's general counsel to so flippantly and recklessly disregard the written protocol and the rights of Richard Glossip," the grand jury said.

After appearing before the grand jury, both Anita Trammell, the penitentiary warden, and Robert Patton, the head of the Department of Corrections, resigned from their posts, having faced scrutiny for failing to notify anyone when they received potassium acetate for the 2nd time.

The report did not view them in a favorable light either, saying "It is inexcusable for a senior administrator with 30 years as a department employee to testify that 'there are just some things you ask questions about, and there's some things you don't.'"

Attorney General Scott Pruitt has said that no executions will be scheduled until 5 months after the release of the grand jury's report and his office receives official notification that the prison system can resume executions.

Source: rt.com, May 21, 2016


New calls to end death penalty after grand jury says Dept. of Corrections 'failed'

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin
A scathing, 106-page report from a multi-county grand jury calls for sweeping changes to the state's protocol for executing inmates, but some said the report doesn't go far enough. "When we see this kind of drastic, systematic failure, we should really take a hard look at what we're doing as a state and why this is something we should continue to do," said defense attorney Jacqui Ford. "The point is whether the government and the state of Oklahoma should be permitted to continue to engage in state-sponsored homicide when they can't follow their own rules."

Attorney General Scott Pruitt asked for an investigation after discovering corrections workers used the incorrect, unapproved drugs to execute Charles Warner in January 2015.

Later that year, the governor stayed Richard Glossip's execution, after it was discovered the same incorrect drugs were about to be administered.

Corrections officials discovered they had potassium acetate, instead of the approved potassium chloride.

The grand jury did not indict anyone, but its report details a number of shortcomings, citing the following people for failing to perform their duties with precision and attention to detail:

--DOC Director Robert Patton, who orally modified the execution protocol without authority

--The Pharmacist ordered the wrong execution drugs

--The Department's General Counsel failed to inventory the execution drugs as mandated by state purchasing requirements

--An agent with the Department's Office of Inspector General failed to inspect the execution drugs while transporting them into the Oklahoma State Penitentiary

--Warden Anita Trammel failed to notify anyone in the Department that potassium acetate had been received

--The H Unit Section Chief failed to observe the Department had received the wrong execution drugs

--The IV Team failed to observe the Department had received the wrong execution drugs; the Department's Execution Protocol failed to define important teiins, and lacked controls to ensure the proper execution drugs were obtained and administered

--Governor Fallin's General Counsel Steve Mullins advocated the Department proceed with the Glossip execution using potassium acetate

"I would respect that report and try to learn from it," said former prosecutor Lou Keel. "These are things the Department of Corrections must get right."

Keel prosecuted the Charles Warner case and said he still stands by the death penalty, even after Oklahoma's well-documented problems, which have only added to opposition to capital punishment.

"Some murders are so horrendous, so heinous that the only right and just punishment is the death penalty," said Keel, who estimates he sent 15 people to death row. "Certainly, this is a process, as a society, that we have to get right. When you impose the ultimate sanction on people, it's important this be done in the most humane way possible."

Keel doesn't dispute the DOC's shortcomings but wonders about how serious the drug mix-up was.

Warner died in 18 minutes, and the grand jury concluded "There is no evidence the manner of execution caused Warner any needless pain."

NewsChannel 4's Abby Broyles witnessed the execution and reported hearing him say his body was on fire.

The grand jury does not appear to be finished with its investigation.

Its report concludes noting its next scheduled meeting is June 13-16, where it will summon additional witnesses and gather physical evidence.

Source: KFOR news, May 20, 2016

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