Oklahoma Inmates Fight Lethal Injections

Lawyers for 21 death row inmates are hoping to put a hold on upcoming executions in the state, saying that the lethal-injection procedure constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

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Charles Warner

OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

Death row inmates in Oklahoma are still fighting for their lives. On Wednesday, attorneys for 21 inmates filed a lawsuit in Oklahoma City’s U.S. District Court, claiming that prison officials are basically experimenting on inmates with the current lethal-injection cocktail, causing them cruel and unusual punishment, the Associated Press reports. The attorneys are hoping to stop the current method of execution, arguing that it could cause pain and suffering. The suit also claims that the drugs being used for the cocktail are unsuitable.

"By attempting to conduct executions with an ever-changing array of untried drugs of unknown provenance, using untested procedures, the defendants are engaging in a program of biological experimentation on captive and unwilling human subjects," the lawsuit reads, according to AP.

The attorney general’s office has said that it is reviewing the lawsuit but did not offer any other comment.

The inmate backlash comes after the slipshod April 29 execution of another Oklahoma inmate, Clayton Lockett. The 38-year-old inmate died of a heart attack after prison officials halted his execution when he started responding badly to the procedure. He reportedly began to writhe and breathe heavily, clenching his teeth and attempting to lift his head from the gurney.

A deeper probe of the incident found that not enough drugs had entered his bloodstream after a vein collapsed, causing the cocktail to leak out or into surrounding tissue. The issue was not noticed until about 20 minutes into the procedure, after all the drugs had been administered.

One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, inmate Charles Warner, had been scheduled to die mere hours after Lockett in April, but the botched execution got him a stay until Nov. 13, AP notes.

Lockett and Warner had both sued Oklahoma, hoping to find out the source of the drugs being used in executions, but the attorney general’s office was successful in keeping the information under wraps, according to AP.

Read more at the Associated Press.

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