The invention of lethal injection

Confessions of a former legislator

From 1974 to 1980, William J. Wiseman Jr. served three terms in the Oklahoma state legislature as Republican representative of Tulsa’s district 69. During his tenure he was the architect of what became known as the lethal-injection bill, which was introduced and passed in 1977. The bill made Oklahoma the first governmental body in the world to adopt lethal injection as the means of executing capital offenders. According to Bureau of Justice data for 1999, of 98 persons executed that year in 20 states, 94 were killed by lethal injection, three by electrocution and one by lethal gas. In the following article Wiseman reflects on his role in the legislative process.


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