Oklahoma: Both Oklahoma and Florida states plan to execute death row inmates on Thursday with a three-drug method that has been challenged in court for creating a risk of unconstitutional pain and suffering.
Oklahoma prison officials ordered new medical equipment, more extensive training for staff and renovated the execution chamber inside the Oklahoma State Penitentiary to prevent the kind of problems that arose during the execution of Clayton Lockett in April.
Lockett writhed on the gurney, moaned and tried to lift his head after he'd been declared unconscious, prompting prison officials to try to halt his execution before he died.
Attorneys for the state say a failed intravenous line and a lack of training led to the problems with Lockett's injection, not the drugs.
Critics argue the sedative midazolam is ineffective in rendering a person properly unconscious before the second and third drugs are administered.
Charles Frederick Warner, the 47-year-old Oklahoma inmate scheduled to die today, and three other Oklahoma death row inmates have filed a petition with the US Supreme Court to stop their executions.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said the state Department of Corrections "has responded with new protocols that I believe, prayerfully, will provide them more latitude in dealing with exigent circumstances as they arise." His office has successfully defended Oklahoma's new protocol in federal court.
Oklahoma also has increased by five times the amount of midazolam it plans to use to mirror the exact recipe that Florida has used in 11 successful executions.
But midazolam also was used in problematic executions last year in Arizona and Ohio, where inmates snorted and gasped during lethal injections that took longer than expected.
"There is a well-established scientific consensus that it cannot maintain a deep, comalike unconsciousness," the Oklahoma inmates' attorneys wrote in a petition with the nation's highest court.
Florida plans to execute Johnny Shane Kormonday, 42, for killing a man during a 1993 home-invasion robbery in Pensacola, while Oklahoma intends to execute Warner an hour later today for killing his roommate's infant daughter in 1997 in Oklahoma City.