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Oklahoma Death Row Prisoners Claim State Rules On Executions Are Incomplete

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma
left to right: Attorney General Mike Hunter, Gov. Kevin Stitt, Rep. Harold Wright, Rep. Chris Kannady and Department of Corrections Director Scott Crow in February 2020.

Attorneys for a group of Oklahoma death row prisoners say the state hasn’t finished its revisions to a plan for carrying out executions, as required by a 2015 legal agreement that suspended capital punishment in the state.

Their challenge will be considered at a federal court hearing on Tuesday.

The argument is the latest in a roughly six-year lawsuit challenging the way Oklahoma executes people.

The state agreed not to schedule executions until 150 days after it provided – among other things – a new checklist for how prisoners would be put to death. The state released the new rules earlier this year.

Attorneys for the men on death row say those rules are incomplete because they allude to new execution training for prison staff, but don’t say what the training will be.

The plaintiffs also say the state left room for a new combination of execution chemicals to be introduced into its plan but didn’t say what the new combination would be or how it would be used. They claim that leaves the door open for a future execution method that wouldn’t be vetted in court.

If the federal judge agrees, the 150-day clock will be reset until the additional details are provided.

The state argues it has fulfilled all the requirements it agreed to in 2015.

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