Patrick B. McGuigan
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt told CapitolBeatOK, in a recent interview, he will press to renew executions in Oklahoma once the multi-country grand jury has released its report.
The grand jury has been investigating a botched execution process, including the near-execution of Richard Glossip last September, when prison officials came within hours of using the wrong drugs for lethal injection. On at least one other occasion, Pruitt revealed last year, state officials used the wrong drugs to carry out an execution.
Pruitt says he “won't ask the court to set an execution date until at least 150 days” after the report is released.
Pruit has said it is “critical” that the state gets the protocol for death penalty procedures right. Asked what process he would use, and who is involved in its creation, he said:
“Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol has been upheld as constitutional. My office successfully defended the protocol last year before the U.S. Supreme Court. The constitutionality of the protocol isn’t at issue. Rather, it’s the administration of the protocol by the Department of Corrections that’s at question.
“Going forward, it is essential the state and the public have confidence that the Department of Corrections can administer the protocol in the manner represented to the court, the victim families, the convicted and their attorneys.”
Asked when he anticipated the process would move forward, and when a protocol would be announced, Pruitt replied:
“The Multicounty Grand Jury is scheduled to meet February 16-18, March 29-31, April 12-14, May 17-19, June 14-16, and July 12-14. After each session, the grand jury issues an interim report to the court summarizing its activities. When the grand jury concludes its investigation into DOC’s administration of lethal injection protocol, the grand jury will issue an interim report with its findings.
“My office has stated it won’t ask the court to set an execution date until at least 150 days after the grand jury issues its report.”
In a follow up to that exchange, CapitolBeatOK asked for “a little more precision on the timing” and whether any changes in the protocol are envisioned. Aaron Cooper, the attorney general's communications director, replied:
“The execution protocol is in place and has been since it was upheld as constitutional by the highest court in the land.
“DOC is responsible for administration of the protocol – so I would have to refer you to them about whether they’ve made changes to ensure the administration of the protocol occurs as represented to all those involved in the process.
“It wouldn’t be until at least 150 days after the grand jury report comes out that the A.G.’s Office would ask the court to set an execution date.”
In all, there are five men residing on death row who executions might move forward under the process Pruitt outlined. They are Richard Stephen Fairchild, Jeremy Alan Williams, Richard Eugene Glossip, John Marion Grant, and Benjamin Robert Cole, Sr.