Kentucky releases rules for executions----Supreme Court orders Kentucky to release policy
Kentucky's once secret protocol for executing inmates by lethal injection describes in chilling detail what to do if an execution goes bad, and even spells out measures to revive the condemned if there is a last-minute stay.
If an inmate doesn't "flatline" within 10 minutes after being given a 3-drug cocktail, the protocol demands that the same drugs should be given again.
"This process will continue until death has occurred," says the protocol, a portion of which the U.S. Supreme Court ordered released this week.
The order came as the court considers whether Kentucky's method of lethal injection -- similar to that used in 35 other states -- is constitutional.
The Kentucky Corrections Department had refused to release its 29-step protocol, citing security concerns. And the document released this week omits some details, including the time of executions, for example.
State Justice Cabinet spokeswomen Jennifer Brislin said making that public could cause executions to be disrupted.
The Supreme Court is expected to decide by June whether the procedures used by Kentucky and the other states violate the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The appeal was brought by condemned Kentucky inmates Ralph Baze and Thomas Clyde Bowling Jr.
The 16 pages of the protocol released Wednesday mandate that the execution team practice 10 times a year, and that each practice include a walk-through of an execution, including placing intravenous lines into a human volunteer.
The protocol also says that:
If the team cannot secure 1 or more IV lines into the condemned inmate in one hour, the corrections commission shall notify the governor and request that the execution be rescheduled.
If the condemned isn't unconscious within 60 seconds after delivery of the 1st drug, sodium thiopental, the warden should order that a new flow be started in a backup IV.
If the inmate doesn't "flatline" within 10 minutes after all 3 drugs are given, the warden shall order a 2nd round.
Objections to procedure
Lawyers for Baze and Bowling contend the procedure offers no guarantees that the chemicals will work properly or that the condemned inmate won't suffer excruciating pain.
"It is woefully deficient," said their lead counsel, David Barron, an assistant public advocate.
The Rev. Pat Delahanty, chairman of the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, questioned whether a warden is capable of determining whether an inmate is unconscious.
"That seems to me to be a serious flaw that could lead to pain and suffering," he said.
Delahanty also asked, "If the intention of lethal injection is to be humane, why would there ever be 2nd round" of the drugs administered?
Brislin said the Justice Cabinet had no comment on the protocol itself, but its lawyers have maintained that if the 1st drug is properly administered there will be a painless death.
The protocol offers detailed instruction on every aspect of the procedure, from the maximum duration of the condemned's final statement (2 minutes), to when the curtain on the chamber window should be opened and shut, to the order in which witnesses shall be escorted away after watching the execution (first media, then inmate witnesses, then the victim's witnesses.)
The protocol sets out procedures starting 2 weeks before the execution.
Nurses are required to check the inmate on every shift, and a doctor must do so daily. The inmate also must be given a physical exam and a psychiatric examination no later than 7 days before the execution, and the warden must be informed of any changes in his condition.
Inmates are limited to four visitors at a time, and pastors and the media may only visit on weekdays.
Members of the execution team may be a certified medical assistant, a paramedic, an EMT, a phlebotomist or a military corpsman, and each must have practiced at least twice.
Steps in execution
The execution starts with an "IV Team" inserting a main line and a backup, with the "insertion site of preference in the following order: arms, hands, ankles and or feet/neck."
After the lines are inserted, the leader is to recheck all restraints, determine they are secure and advise the warden.
The warden, after checking one last time with the attorneys, is to turn on the microphone, announce the condemned's name, and allow him to speak.
When the warden orders the execution to proceed, a designated team member will begin "a rapid flow of lethal chemicals."
If all goes as planned, the coroner and physician will confirm death by checking the condemned's pulse and pupils and so advise the warden, who will state, "At approximately ---- p.m., the execution of ---- was carried out in accordance with the laws of the commonwealth of Kentucky."
In the event a stay is issued after the execution has started, the warden will have an ambulance, a medical crash cart and defibrillator standing by, and medical staff will attempt to "stabilize the condemned," the protocol says.
The procedure was sealed at the Corrections Department's request when the case was tried in Franklin Circuit Court in 2005, and it was filed under seal last year with the U.S. Supreme Court.
In arguing to keep it sealed, Barron said, the department cited a state law that allows the commissioner to keep records confidential if their release might endanger a corrections officer or inmate.
As an example of the potential danger, Barron said, the department told the Supreme Court that former Gov. Ernie Fletcher was confronted in 2004 by Bowling's mother while walking his dog in Frankfort.
But Barron said the report was exaggerated and falsely implied that the governor had been stalked. Barron said Bowling's lawyers brought her to talk to the governor when he came out to talk to the media during a demonstration against the death penalty.
Brislin said the Justice Cabinet had no comment.
Baze was convicted of fatally shooting Powell County Sheriff Steve Bennett and Deputy Arthur Briscoe in 1992 as they attempted to arrest him.
Bowling was convicted of killing Edward and Tina Earley of Lexington and wounding their 2-year-old son in 1990.
KY Lethal Injection Protocol
Notify Department of Corrections of receipt of Governor's Death Warrant (immediately).
Begin a special section of condemned's medical record for all medical actions (X-14 days).
Nurse visits and checks on the condemned each shift, 7 days a week, using the special medical section to record contacts and observations (X-14 days).
(Redacted) personally observes and evaluates the condemned five (5) days per week, Monday through Friday (X-14 days).
Place the (redacted)'s documentation in the permanent record immediately after personal contact. Department of Corrections (redacted) or his designee reviews and initials nursing documentation in #3 daily (X-14 days).
(Redacted) reviews nursing and doctor's documentation weekly.
Physical examination is completed by the (redacted) or his designee no later than seven (7) days prior to execution.
Place the physical in the permanent medical record upon completion.
(Redacted)'s evaluation is completed by (redacted) no later than seven (7) days prior to execution. Place the psychiatric evaluation in the permanent medical record and send copies to the Warden. (Redacted) or his designee personally observes and evaluates the condemned's medical condition weekly.
Place the (redacted) or his designee notes in the permanent record immediately after personal contact.
Notify all medical staff to immediately notify the Warden, (redacted) or designee and (redacted) of any change in the inmate's medical or psychiatric condition.
Sequence of Events
At (redacted), the Warden orders the condemned escorted to the execution chamber and strapped to the gurney.
The IV team members will be the members of the execution team who site and insert the IV lines.
The team enters the chamber and runs the IV lines to the condemned inmate, site and insert one (1) primary IV line and one (1) backup IV line in a location deemed suitable by the team members.
The insertion site of preference shall by the following order: arms, hands, ankles and/or feet, neck. To best assure that a needle is inserted properly into a vein, the IV team members should look for the presence of blood in the valve of the sited needle.
If the IV team cannot secure one (1) or more sites within one (1) hour, the Governor's Office shall be contacted by the Commissioner and a request shall be made that the execution be scheduled for a later date.
The team will start a saline flow.
The team will securely connect the electrodes of the cardiac monitor to the inmate and ensure the equipment is functioning.
The team will then move to the hallway and stand by.
The team leader will recheck all restraints and determine they are secure and so advise the Warden.
The Warden will confirm that all is ready.
The Warden will make one final check with the attorneys stationed outside the chamber.
The Deputy Warden will open the curtain and turn on the microphone.
The Warden states, "At this time we will carry out the legal execution of (condemned's name)."
The Warden asks the condemned if he wants to make a final statement (two (2) minutes allowed). Upon the Warden's order to "proceed" and the microphone turned off, a designated team member will begin a rapid flow of lethal chemicals in the following order:
1)Sodium Thiopental (3gm). NOTE: If it appears to the Warden that the condemned is not unconscious within 60 seconds to his command to "proceed," the Warden shall stop the flow of Sodium Thiopental in the primary site an order that the backup IV be used with a new flow of Sodium Thiopental.
2)Saline (25 mg).
3)Pancuronium Bromide (50 mg).
4)Saline (25 mg).
5)Potassium Chloride (240 meq).
A designated team member will begin a stopwatch once the lethal injections are complete. If the heart monitor does not indicate a flat line after ten (10) minutes and if during that time the physician and coroner are not able to pronounce death, the Warden will order a second set of lethal chemicals to be administered (Sodium Thiopental, Pancuronium Bormide (sic), and Potassium Chloride). This process will continue until death has occurred.
A designated team member will observe the heart monitor and advise the physician of cessation of electrical activity of the heart.
The curtain shall be drawn when the Physician and coroner enter the chamber and confirm death by checking the condemned's pulse and pupils and so advise the Warden.
The will then be opened. The Warden turns on the microphone and states: "At approximately ___ p.m. the execution of _______ was carried out in accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth of Kentucky".
The microphone is turned off and the curtains will be drawn.
The witnesses are escorted out of the witness room, first the media, inmate's witnesses, and then the victim's witnesses.
The team will prepare the body for departure.
Release body per prior arrangements.
Funeral director completes death certificate.
Not more than one (1) day after the execution, the Warden shall return the copy of the judgment of the court pronouncing the death sentence, of the manner, time and place of its execution.
Close out inmate account during next business day.
Contact individual designated to receive condemned's personal property for pick up of property the next business day.
Compile all documents pertaining to Execution and place in inmate file.
Execution Team Qualifications
1)The following people with at least 1 year of professional experience may be on the IV team:
a)Certified Medical Assistant, or
b)Phlebotomist, or c)Emergency Medical Technician, or
2)Prior to participating in an actual execution, the member of the IV team must have participated in a least two (2) practices.
3)Members of the IV team must remain certified in their profession and must fulfill any continuing education requirements in their profession.
4)The execution team shall practice at least ten (10) times during the course of one (1) calendar year. 5)Each practice shall include a complete walk through of an execution including the siting of two (2) IVs into a volunteer.
6)Execution team members, excluding the IV team members, must have participated in a minimum of two (2) practices prior to participating in an actual execution.
Stabilization Procedure After The Execution Has Commenced
1)In the event that a stay is issued after the execution has commenced, the execution team will stand down and medical staff on site will attempt to stabilize the condemned with the below listed equipment and personnel.
a)The Warden will arrange for an ambulance and staff to be present on institutional property.
b)A medical crash cart and defibrillator shall be located in the execution building.
I guess this is what Ruthie and the Supremes granted being released.
State releases plan for execution procedure
Kentucky released its execution protocols for the first time Wednesday, and the public and legislators will get a chance to comment on the rules next year.
It's ultimately up to Gov. Steve Beshear to readopt the procedure or any changes.
The protocol covers a variety of areas, ranging from how quickly an inmate must become unconscious to when a coroner and physician are called in to certify death.
After fighting for several years to keep the protocol secret, the state released it just weeks after the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that it hadn't been properly adopted. The court barred any executions until the method was redone.
The ruling didn't challenge the technique, which is used by dozens of other states and has passed U.S. Supreme Court scrutiny in a case brought by Kentucky death row inmate Ralph Baze.
The protocol will be opened to public comment in January. Various legislative committees then review it before it goes to the governor for approval. It couldn't take effect before next May.
The release of the protocol comes less than a week after Ohio used an overdose of one drug on convicted killer Kenneth Biros -- the first one-drug execution in the United States.
Parts of Kentucky's 74-page protocol have previously been made public, including the three drugs used to execute an inmate -- sodium thiopental, a fast-acting sedative; pancuronium bromide, which causes paralysis; and potassium chloride, which causes cardiac arrest.
Details made public for the first time include:
*A coroner and physician are nearby to certify death. The coroner checks the inmate's pupils and pulse and the physician certifies the cause of death. Neither is in the execution chamber.
*If an inmate is conscious after 60 seconds during a lethal injection, the warden must stop the procedure and order that a backup IV be used in another site on the inmate's body.
*If an inmate has not died after 10 minutes during a lethal injection or two minutes during an electrocution, a second dose of drugs or jolt of electricity is administered.
*Members of the execution team must be a phlebotomist -- a person trained to draw blood -- emergency medical technician, paramedic or military corpsman or combat medic and have at least one year of professional experience.
*Each execution costs the Department of Corrections $17,000.
Courts around the country have split over whether states should have to follow administrative regulation procedures in adopting a lethal injection protocol. Maryland, Nebraska and California have found that the requirement applies to lethal injection, while courts in Missouri and Tennessee ruled that it doesn't.
California is undergoing a process similar to Kentucky's and recently received public comment. Its execution method must still be approved by a federal judge, who stopped all executions there until officials eliminated deficiencies found in the original process.
Kentucky's three-drug protocol also is under attack in federal court by five inmates. They are challenging the protocol, the practice of giving Valium to inmates before an execution and how the state acquires the drugs used.
Kentucky has 35 death row inmates. The state has executed three men since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, most recently in November 2008.
February 16, 2010
Kentucky has revised its proposed lethal injection protocol.
The revisions released Tuesday include removing the possibility that a condemned inmate will have deadly chemicals injected into his neck if attempts to find other veins fail.
The changes come less than a month after the first public hearing on the state's execution protocol. Other changes include the state agreeing to include details about the handling of the chemicals used and procedures for stopping the execution of an inmate who volunteers, but changes his mind once the process starts.
The Kentucky Supreme Court in November halted executions until the state readopted its protocol.
Gov. Steve Beshear has the final say on whether to put the new regulations in place and conduct executions again.
Lethal Injection Method On Course For Enactment
FRANKFORT (AP) - Kentucky's lethal injection protocol could be in place by May after a legislative committee raised no objection to the three-drug method used to execute condemned prisoners.
The comittee heard from the Department of Corrections on Monday about changes made to the execution protocol, as well as objections from death penalty opponents.
The execution method must be reviewed by two more legislative committees, then will go to Gov. Steve Beshear no later than May 7 for his approval or rejection.
Kentucky is seeking to reenact its execution protocol after the state Supreme Court ruled in November the written procedures were improperly adopted and threw them out.