Oklahoma's prison chief said Monday that the death chamber is getting a facelift and the execution team will have a new tool to find suitable veins in response to the botched lethal injection of Clayton Lockett. Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton announced the changes five days after a state report declared that an improperly placed intravenous line led to the April 29 debacle that prompted the White House to order a national review of execution protocols.
Lockett appeared to regain consciousness and writhe in pain midway through the procedure, which lasted 43 minutes. Patton ordered the execution halted, but the directive was not relayed to the team inside the execution chamber before Lockett died. Patton said the upgrade will include better communications equipment.
The next person scheduled to be executed is Charles Warner on Nov. 13. Warner was supposed to be put to death the same night as Lockett, but his lethal injection was canceled amid the chaos and then postponed while Oklahoma investigated the matter. Dale Baich, a lawyer for Oklahoma death row inmates, said Monday that fixing the problems can't be done quickly.
"The execution of Mr. Lockett represented multiple foundational failures of leadership, at varying levels, including the systematic lack of transparency which has marked this execution since before it began," he said. "Any changes to the protocol will need to be carefully studied to determine if the many problems identified by the [state review] are appropriately addressed. Additionally, the larger issue of how so many things could go wrong at once must be addressed. Any changes to the current protocol should be part of the review by the federal court in the pending lawsuit."
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