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Federal Judge Rules Oklahoma's Execution Protocols Constitutional

The death chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections

A federal judge in Oklahoma City ruled Monday the state’s lethal injection methods are constitutional following the execution of a man that went awry in April.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot said state’s lethal injection cocktail “does not carry substantial likelihood of inflicting pain,” despite current death row inmates’ claim the practice is cruel and unusual punishment.

Attorneys for the 21 inmates stepped forward to halt death penalty proceedings after Clayton Lockett writhed and moaned during his lengthy execution that was later described by a warden as a “bloody mess.”

It was the first time the state had used the sedative midazolam as part of a three-drug combination, and inmates fear similar deaths.

Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections is set to resume lethal injections using that drug January 15. 


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