Oklahoma to draft new execution protocols in next two weeks

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 08, 2014 7:59 PM

By Heide Brandes

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - Oklahoma plans to have new execution protocols written within the next two weeks to correct for shortcomings exposed in a report last week about the troubled execution of a convicted murderer, officials said on Monday.

The prisons department aims to have all the recommendations made in the report in place and ready for the next Oklahoma execution, scheduled for November, Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton told reporters.

The report on the April execution said a doctor and paramedic failed nearly a dozen times to place an IV during the execution of Clayton Lockett and were unprepared for how to proceed once the line they secured to deliver a lethal injection began leaking drugs.

Department of Public Safety investigators made 11 recommendations to improve the process, including having additional lethal injection drugs on hand, additional training for medical personnel in the death chamber and leaving the IV area of the body exposed so that it can be monitored.

Among the changes under way are a fresh coat of paint for the death chamber, new seating for witnesses and expanded medical equipment that includes a vein finder and EKG machine, Patton said.

"I am extremely confident that these changes will have executions moving smoothly in the future," Patton said. Governor Mary Fallin said last week executions will not take place until the new protocols are in place.

Critics contend there is no quick fix for a troubled system.

Dale Baich, an attorney for Oklahoma death row prisoners, said: "The execution of Mr. Lockett represented multiple foundational failures of leadership, at various levels, including the systematic lack of transparency which has marked this execution since before it began."

Lockett eventually died from the lethal injection chemicals that had been absorbed into his tissue. President Barack Obama said in May the execution raised questions about the death penalty in the United States and he would ask the U.S. attorney general to look into the situation.

Oklahoma is also facing lawsuits concerning its execution protocols and the combination of chemicals it uses.

When asked if he was embarrassed by the troubled April execution, Patton said: "It was clear that we needed a review," adding the execution "was not botched."