Target: Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin
Goal: End the use of untested lethal injection drugs used to execute prisoners
Recently, the state of Oklahoma proceeded with its controversial use of experimental lethal injection drugs, and as many feared, things went terribly wrong. Witnesses reported that the prisoner, Clayton Lockett, writhed in pain and clenched his teeth, before dying from a massive heart attack. After prison officials realized the new three-drug combination was not working as intended, they stopped the procedure but he died anyway. Amid ongoing legal battles over experimental drugs, the state of Oklahoma, among others, continues to administer injections known to cause suffering. Urge Governor Mary Fallin to ensure that these experimental drugs are not used on any more prisoners and demand that she order the prison to publicly announce its drug sources.
A second inmate, Charles Warner, received a reprieve when the prison postponed his scheduled execution two hours after that of Lockett. According the Warner’s lawyer, the botched execution of Lockett amounted to torture. Opponents claim that the problems with the execution call into question the ability of states to administer lethal injections that meet the U.S. Constitution’s requirement that they be neither cruel nor unusual punishment.
Over the past few years, several states, including Oklahoma, have had to find new sources of drugs because major European drug manufacturers that oppose capital punishment have stopped selling to prisons. Alternatively, states have turned to compounding pharmacies to custom mix experimental drugs, and they have kept their identities secret. Oklahoma, along with Texas and Missouri, have all refused to reveal their drug sources. However, an Oklahoma county district court judge recently ruled that withholding this information is unconstitutional and denies the inmates their right to access the courts to argue against their own executions.
The botched execution was the first time the state of Oklahoma attempted to use a drug mixture of midazolam, pancuronium bromide, and potassium chloride. A similar drug cocktail was previously used on an Ohio prisoner, who struggled and gasped for air for twenty-six minutes before he died. Similar untested combinations have been documented to cause extreme pain and suffering before death.
Urge Governor Fallin to halt the use of these experimental drug combinations to administer the death penalty and ensure that this unconstitutional practice does not affect other prisoners.
Dear Governor Fallin,
I am writing to urge you to suspend the use of experimental drug combinations to administer executions of state prisoners. In addition, I urge you to order the prison to publicly announce their drug sources. An Oklahoma county district court judge has ruled that keeping the source of the drugs secret is unconstitutional and denies inmates their right to access the courts to argue against their own executions.
Cruel and unusual punishment is forbidden by the U.S. Constitution, yet these untested drug cocktails have been documented to cause extreme pain and suffering before death. The witness reports from the recent execution of Clayton Lockett tell a tale of tremendous agony and torment before prison officials realized their mistake and attempted to stop the procedure.
I urge you to ensure that Oklahoma prisons immediately stop using these experimental drugs to administer the death penalty and to reveal their drug sources, in accordance with state and federal law.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: CACorrections via Wikimedia Commons