Sodium thiopental is the first of three drugs used when the state kills someone by lethal injection. There is one big problem with the drug, the drug’s maker, Hospira, says it won't be able to make any more of it until January at the earliest. Because of that, the state has found a substitute, pentobarbital which is a drug commonly used to put animals to sleep. The Sooner State would be the first in the country to make the swap.
Now Oklahoma finds itself in middle of a debate about what's cruel and unusual when it comes to the death penalty.
Most Tulsans FOX23 found Saturday support the death penalty.
“I just believe you should pay for what you do, some crimes require that,” Angie Davis said.
“I feel if you take a life you should have your life taken,” Nick Nielsen said.
“I’m for it all the way,” Jeffrey White told FOX23.
But not everyone supports the state injecting death row inmates with a drug used to euthanize animals
“We're people, we're living breathing people, I don't think we should be disposed of like animals,” Desiree Graff said.
Others say the state can't afford to wait much longer.
“It's our taxpayer dollars that are keeping them alive, feeding them, housing them,” Julie Weast said.
Two death row inmates convicted of murder, Jeffery David Matthews and John David Duty, are suing saying the drug substitution amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. Some Oklahomans aren't buying it.
“If it's cruel, why would you use it on animals?” Weast asked.
At a Federal Court hearing Friday experts said the new drug would do the same as the one it's replacing, it will cause unconsciousness before an inmate is given another drug to stop their heart.
“It's better than electrocution, or being hung, or being shot to death,” Melissa Proctor said.
Duty's scheduled to die on December 16th. The Oklahoma Attorney General is scheduled to request a new execution for Matthews next week. The inmate's attorneys say they'll appeal this decision.