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Oklahoma Changes Execution Procedure; Improved Injection to Include Five-Times Normal Dosage

Clayton Lockett
Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett. |

The State of Oklahoma has announced reforms to its procedure for executing prisoners.

The reforms come in the wake of an investigation into the death of prisoner Clayton Lockett, who took 43 minutes to pass away after his initial injection of midazolam. The drug was not injected in a proper manner, allowing Lockett to move around and moan before he was finally declared dead. Now, with new reforms, the state is looking to "recover" from the incident and continue with its procedures.

Midazolam will still be used as the drug for the procedure, but the dose will increase to five times what was normally given to inmates. There will also be more training requirements for prison staff and members of execution teams, as well as plans put in place should an execution go awry. Part of the problem with the Lockett execution was that there was no equipment to try and prolong his life should that have been the order given by Governor Mary Fallin or the prison warden.

Even with these changes, assistant federal public defender Dale Baich, told The Guardian, there are still likely to be problems. He is currently working to prevent the executions of 21 inmates.

"We still do not know what went wrong with Mr. Lockett's execution. Discovery and fact-finding by the federal courts will address those issues," he explained. "The prisoners still do not have access to information about the source of the drugs, the qualifications of the executioners, or how the state came up with the different drug combinations."

Corrections director Robert Patton also announced that the prison's execution chamber will be completely renovated ahead of the first execution since Lockett's. New equipment will be purchased in order to allow for safer conditions and to allow personnel to speak with one another.

"We are working hundreds of hours since that execution [Lockett's] on rewriting this protocol," Patton said. "We've reached out to several states around us … We've tried to take best practices from all the states that will talk to us. And I'm very confident moving forward in the process of executing inmates in the state of Oklahoma."

Charles Warner, who was scheduled to die the same night as Lockett, will be the first prisoner to be executed under new guidelines and with new equipment. His execution date is scheduled for Nov. 13, with Richard Glossip scheduled to die on Nov. 20 and John Grant on Dec. 4.

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