Pruitt and other state Attorneys General urge Holder to appeal decision undermining state Capital Punishment laws
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Published: 22-May-2012

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt joined 14 state attorneys general Monday (May 21) in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, urging the Justice Department to appeal a decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that undermines the ability of states to properly enforce capital punishment laws. 
 
The letter was prompted by a sudden reversal in the FDA practice to routinely release imported thiopental to state departments of correction for use in executions, a practice the FDA continued as recently as January 2011. The reversal came after a recent decision in the District Court for the District of Columbia in what is known as the Beaty decision. 

The letter states that the Beaty decision wrongly requires a nationwide change and restriction to access of pharmaceuticals necessary for lethal injection. 

“At the very core of the states’ police powers are their powers to enact laws to protect their citizens against violent crimes. As state attorneys general, we are tasked with enforcing those laws, including in instances where capital punishment is authorized for the most heinous of crimes,” the letter states. 

 “Implicit in that obligation to our citizens is the need for the means by which to carry out executions. Given that the United States itself utilizes lethal injection as a means of executing federal death row inmates, surely you understand the unfortunate position we have been put in by the FDA’s decision to treat the Beaty decision as a nationally binding precedent.” 

Several states are facing shortages of pharmaceuticals necessary to carry out lethal injection. 

“As attorneys general, we have a duty to properly enforce our states’ laws and protect our citizens,” Pruitt said. “It is imperative that U.S. Attorney General Holder urge the FDA to appeal the Beaty decision, since it violates federal policy and impairs the ability of states to properly carry out their capital punishment laws.” 
 
For a copy of the letter and the Beaty decision order, go online to www.oag.ok.gov. 

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