How OK’s Flawed Execution Process Could Lead To More Botches


In a cramped, dimly lit room next to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary's death chamber, three volunteer executioners push syringes full of lethal drugs into the veins of an inmate they cannot see. Sometimes executioners use flashlights to illuminate what they are doing in the drug room, reports the Tulsa World. While the three can hear what is said in the death chamber, they use a makeshift system to communicate with the warden, doctor or others in the room. The executioners stick colored pencils through holes in the wall where two IV lines feed into the inmate's body.”If you saw red, there might be possible problems,” a deputy warden explained in a deposition.

The 2007 description of the chaotic scene in the state's death chamber was documented as part of a legal challenge to Oklahoma's lethal injection process. “I use the flashlight to make sure that all the drugs are in the right order,” the deputy warden explained. The state's failure to require executioners to monitor inmates during the process or require them to receive any training is among serious flaws in Oklahoma's lethal injection protocol. When compared to policies in other active death penalty states, Oklahoma's protocol falls short in key areas that could lead to more botched executions. The World reviewed execution protocols or policies in Oklahoma and 19 other states that have carried out the death penalty since 2008 and compared each state's requirements based on 10 factors that can affect the outcome of executions.

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