The U.S. Supreme Court will be reviewing the system for execution in Oklahoma.
This is the first time that the court has agreed to such proceedings since it rejected a challenge to the procedure back in 2008.
The call for the review comes after a series of controversial executions which have taken place over the last year in the state and the court has agreed to hear the cases of three death row prisoners who are contending the three drug combination used in the lethal injection currently in Oklahoma, stating that the use of this method is unconstitutional.
“This is very big,” said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center to NBC, which opposes capital punishment.
“They may focus just on what Oklahoma is doing, but it will set a standard for every state. It’s going to put a stamp on what’s allowable and what’s not.”
The lawyer for the prisoners has said that protocols involving lethal injections have changed massively since the ruling back in 2008 and that it is time important for the high court to look at this issue once again considering these changes.
According to a report by NBC: “The time is right for the Court to take a careful look at this important issue, particularly given the bungled executions that have occurred since states started using these novel and experimental drugs protocols,” attorney Dale Baich said.
There have been some very public botched attempts at executing prisoners with the lethal injection in recent months which has called into the question the entire practice. In particular was the case of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma.
However since then successful procedures have taken place including the execution only last week of the child rapist and killer Charles Warner.
According to NBC, Warner was part of the challenge that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear, but only four of the justices wanted to delay his execution, one short of the number needed for a stay. However, only four justices are needed to grant certiorari, or review of a case.
The report for NBC notes that since 2008, states have had trouble obtaining some of the drugs that were given the green light — largely because manufacturers refuse to sell them for the purpose of execution. A patchwork of drug combinations is now being used across the country.