Oklahoma releases execution training protocol to attorneys for death row inmates

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An exterior view of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. Photo by Shane Bevel/The Frontier

The Oklahoma Attorney Generals Office and Department of Corrections released its death penalty training protocol on Friday to attorneys for death row inmates as the state attempts to resume executions. 

The DOC had been ordered by federal District Judge Stephen Friot to release detailed execution training plans after attorneys for death row inmates argued the February release of Oklahoma’s updated death penalty protocol did not contain enough information to satisfy a previous court order.

The training protocol was not released publicly. Alex Gerszewski, a spokesman for Attorney General Mike Hunter, said the AG’s office sent the training documents to the inmates’ attorneys as part of discovery in the federal case, and served notice to the court it had complied with a previous court order. 

Dale Baich, one of the attorneys representing death row inmates, told The Frontier on Friday he had received the documents and had just begun to read through them.

“We did receive it and we will be reviewing it,” he said.

While much of the updated protocol was released in detail in February, sections about the training given to those in the death chamber was sparse.

For instance, under the “Training” heading, the protocol said DOC “will establish protocols and training to enable staff to function in a safe, effective and professional manner before, after and during an execution.” The protocol did not specify what that training would entail.

H Unit, the section of McAlester’s Oklahoma State Penitentiary where death row inmates are housed, would have teams receive one training a week for five weeks prior to an execution, the protocol stated. But again, it did not say what that training would consist of.

Oklahoma has not conducted an execution since 2015, when it executed Charles Warner, a convicted child rapist and killer. The state admitted later it had used the wrong drug during Warner’s execution, which happened less than a year after Oklahoma famously botched the execution of Clayton Lockett in 2014.

The state attempted multiple times to execute Richard Glossip following Warner’s execution, however courts intervened and spared Glossip, who remains on death row and will presumably be the first person set for execution whenever Oklahoma resumes the practice.

With the training protocol being filed on Friday, the next step is for attorneys representing Oklahoma’s death row inmates to file an updated complaint on July 5.

The original complaint was first filed in 2014 after Lockett’s execution.

“It needs to be updated, of course,” Baich told The Frontier earlier this year. “The case has changed a lot since then.”

There are currently 47 people on Oklahoma’s death row, 46 men and one woman. 

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Dylan Goforth

Editor in Chief/Staff Writer

Dylan has two kids, three dogs, and no time to himself. He's fueled by QuikTrip and Twitter. Contact: dylan@readfrontier.com or 918-931-9405.
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