There have been no U.S. executions in the seven weeks since an Oklahoma inmate died of a heart attack following a botched lethal injection. That soon could change, with three convicted killers scheduled to die in the span of about 24 hours.
All three states planning lethal injections this week — Florida, Georgia and Missouri — refuse to say where they get their drugs, or if they are tested. Lawyers for the condemned inmates have challenged the secretive process used by some states to obtain lethal injection drugs from unnamed, loosely regulated compounding pharmacies.
Nine executions nationwide have been stayed or postponed since late April, when Clayton Lockett’s vein collapsed just as the drug began flowing into his body in Oklahoma’s death chamber. Lockett’s punishment was halted, but despite efforts to save him, he died of a heart attack.
“I think after Clayton Lockett’s execution everyone is going to be watching very closely,” Fordham University School of Law professor Deborah Denno, a death penalty expert, said of this week’s executions. “The scrutiny is going to be even closer.”