Oklahoma’s current schedule of executing a death row inmate roughly every 30 days is placing too much of a burden on prison staff and should be slowed down, the state’s new attorney general wrote in a motion filed Wednesday with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.
Attorney General Gentner Drummond, who personally witnessed last week’s execution of Scott Eizember, asked the court to set the executions 60 days apart, rather than the current pace of 30 days apart.
“One aspect that has become clear over time is that the current pace of executions is unsustainable in the long run, as it is unduly burdening the (Department of Corrections) and its personnel,” Drummond wrote in the motion. “This is especially true given the extensive and intensive nature of the training DOC personnel undergo to prepare for each execution.”
Drummond said he made the request after meeting with DOC leaders and staff both before and after Eizember’s execution, which was the eighth the state has carried out since resuming lethal injections in October 2021.
The DOC said in a statement it appreciates Drummond’s request and his support for the agency.
“The corrections professionals of this agency invest a significant amount of time in preparation to ensure these sentences are carried out with the utmost professionalism,” the statement said. “As always, ODOC will abide by the schedule set by the Court of Criminal Appeals.”
Oklahoma currently has 20 executions scheduled roughly 30 days apart through 2024. Since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976, Oklahoma has executed more inmates per capita than any other state in the nation, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
That pace continued until problems in 2014 and 2015 led to a de facto moratorium that lasted until 2021. Richard Glossip was just hours away from being executed in September 2015 when prison officials realized they received the wrong lethal drug. It was later learned the same wrong drug had been used to execute an inmate in January 2015.
The drug mix-ups followed a botched execution in April 2014 in which inmate Clayton Lockett struggled on a gurney before dying 43 minutes into his lethal injection — and after the state’s prisons chief ordered executioners to stop. It was later learned members of the execution team had improperly inserted an IV into a vein in Lockett’s groin.