[JURIST] Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin [official website] announced [press release] a series of new protocols Thursday that are expected to take effect for state executions. Her announcement followed a report [text, PDF] issued by the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety [official website] on Thursday detailing the findings of the prolonged execution of Clayton Lockett last April. Lockett’s execution took approximately 43 minutes and witness accounts state the prisoner showed signs of intense pain. The botched procedure resulted in a suspension of executions in Oklahoma until the findings of the execution were analyzed and new protocols were in place. The report declared that “minor deviations” from the specific requirements occurred, with the major difficulty was the viability of the intravenous line [NYT report] and access point. State investigators did not find any deficiency with the lethal injection drug cocktail [USA Today report] which was administered. In Friday’s statement, Gov. Fallin stood behind the death penalty for the most heinous crimes and the next scheduled execution by lethal injection is set for November 13 in Oklahoma.
The controversy surrounding the contents of lethal injection drugs and execution protocol in the US has been a mainstream issue in politics and in courts around the US in 2014. In May the Oklahoma Criminal Court of Appeals approved [JURIST report] a six-month stay of the execution for a current death row inmate while an investigation is conducted into issues with Lockett’s execution. Two weeks ago the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Oklahoma, the Guardian US and the Oklahoma Observer filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma seeking greater media access to state executions. In a June article JURIST Guest Columnist Andrew Spiropoulos of the Oklahoma City University School of Law discussed [JURIST op-ed] the tactical strategies of all parties involved in the Oklahoma Courts’ death penalty decisions. Also in June JURIST Guest Columnist Kimberly Newberry clarified the current policy [JURIST op-ed] surrounding lethal injection law in Oklahoma and explored the repercussions of such a policy.