Oklahoma Prison Chief Calls For Execution Review
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The head of Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections said in a letter to the governor Thursday that the state must change its execution procedures to allow for more oversight after an inmate suffered an agonizing death this week as the state tried to execute him.
Prisons director Robert Patton said it was wrong to leave “all responsibility and decision-making” to the warden of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary at McAlester, where executions are carried out.
“Those decisions should rest on upper management and ultimately on the Director of Corrections,” Patton wrote in a four-page letter to Gov. Mary Fallin detailing Clayton Lockett’s last day and offering three recommendations.
The director said the state should:
—Conduct a full review of execution procedures, and he said he intended to contact other states to ensure Oklahoma “adopts proven standards.”
—Give inmate Charles Warner an indefinite stay of execution. Warner was to have been put to death after Lockett on Tuesday night. Fallin gave him a two-week stay.
—Allow an external review of what went wrong at Lockett’s execution. “While I have complete confidence in the abilities of my Inspector General and his staff, I believe the report will be perceived as more credible if conducted by an external entity,” Patton said.
Fallin had announced similar steps Wednesday, including asking another member of her cabinet to review Corrections Department procedures.
Lockett died 43 minutes after his execution began Tuesday night. Autopsy results are pending, but state prison officials say Lockett apparently suffered a massive heart attack.
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