‘We’re going to get a handle on the execution process:’ AG disagrees with death penalty committee report

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- The state's attorney general "respectfully disagrees" with a report calling for a stay on executions until significant issues can be resolved.

Attorney General Mike Hunter pushed back on the nearly 300-page report, which suggested more than 40 ways to improve capital punishment to ensure it is carried out correctly.

"I have a number of friends and colleagues who served on the commission," Hunter said of the 11-member Death Penalty Review Commission. "I respect their views but I respectfully disagree. We're going to get a handle on the execution process."

Executions in Oklahoma have been in a state of uncertainty since it was discovered the state was about to use a non-approved drug to execute Richard Glossip in September 2015. Then it was discovered the state actually used the same non-approved drug to execute Charles Warner in January 2015.

Warner's execution was Oklahoma's last. The state has been under an indefinite stay of executions.

"I think where we are is we're finalizing the protocol with [The Department of Corrections] and that will be released to the public hopefully in the very near future," said Hunter, citing new management at DOC. "I'm confident they're going to come up with a new execution protocol. And we'll move forward after that."

The people spoke clearly, in support of executions, Hunter said, when they convincingly approved a state question in November.

Lawmakers too have continued to push execution-related legislation.

On the Senate floor Wednesday, Sen. Anthony Sykes (R-Moore) called executions "perhaps one of the most serious issues this chamber will address."

His bill would allow non-practitioners to administer lethal drugs.

"I think his bill actually makes it easier for the state to carry out these executions because sometimes it might be difficult to get the proper healthcare workers to assist in these executions," said Sen. Ervin Yen (R-Oklahoma City), an anesthesiologist. "I'm not saying I'm for executions, I'm not saying I'm against executions but in Oklahoma they are legal so anything we can do to carry them out smoother and more humanely, I'm for."

The bill passed 40-1. Sen. Kay Floyd (D-Oklahoma City) was the only member to vote against the legislation, citing constituent opposition to the death penalty.

"Will this bill do that?" she said when asked whether the bill would improve the execution process. "I think it remains to be seen."

Hunter would not weigh in on the legislation, the details of which he said he has not reviewed.

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