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Bill OKs Substitute Drugs for Executions (Mar 22, 2011)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma prison officials will have more flexibility to substitute the lethal drugs used to execute condemned inmates under a bill approved by a Senate panel.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill that authorizes the Department of Corrections to use a lethal quantity of "drug or drugs" to execute inmates. Existing law requires the department to use an ultrashort acting barbiturate in combination with a paralytic agent.

The state of Oklahoma had for years used the anesthetic sodium thiopental as the first in a three-drug cocktail to carry out the death penalty. But Oklahoma substituted pentobarbital last year after a nationwide shortage of sodium thiopental.

DOC general counsel Michael Oakley says the department has no plans to change its current protocol, which has been upheld in court.

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