Chickashanews.com

Top News

May 9, 2014

Execution ritual cloaked in secrecy

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA —

Retired Oklahoma State Penitentiary warden Randall Workman, who did not oversee the Lockett execution but presided over 32 others during his five years in charge of the prison, said he began execution day about 4 a.m.

“It’s a very arduous and very detailed day,” he said at his home in rural southeastern Oklahoma.

The warden is tasked with handling all the logistics — including making arrangements for visitors and refreshments. Prison personnel are responsible for obtaining enough execution drugs, according to the policy.

The Department of Corrections gives itself up to five alternatives for a lethal injection. The procedure states: "The warden shall have the sole discretion as to which lethal agent will be used for the scheduled execution."

Some alternatives involve a one-drug concoction, though the state traditionally uses a three-drug combination.

Workman said each component is a lethal dose. The first drug is meant to induce unconsciousness, the second is a paralytic, and the third is designed to stop the heart. But, in many of the 32 executions he oversaw, Workman said the first drug would immediately cause death.

It also falls to current Warden Anita Trammell to line up medical personnel and three executioners for each procedure. Workman said each executioner has a different drug in their plunger and administers it when instructed by prison staff.

The state's policy stipulates only that the phlebotomist must be qualified, the physician monitoring the procedure must be licensed, and no one's identity may be disclosed. The rest is up to the warden.

Workman said he kept a list of several available doctors and phlebotomists, as well as about 20 executioners. They came from all walks of life — except corrections, he said. They rotated on executions.

“You’ve got a lot of people that would like to be executioners,” he said, just as morbid curiosity compelled many to ask to watch executions. He would turn people away.

Workman said he always chose people he knew were doing it out of “duty of the state."

The people who wear the hoods into the death chamber, he said, had “a lot of integrity and character.”

Text Only
Top News