The state has conducted autopsies on less than half of the inmates executed in Oklahoma since 1990 and, in many cases, does not perform tests that could show whether inmates were awake and paralyzed as painful drugs flowed into their veins, a Tulsa World investigation has found.
Because state records are inconsistent and blood is sometimes drawn long after inmates die, it is difficult to say how many inmates were conscious when they received potassium chloride, the third drug in Oklahoma’s lethal injection process. Medical experts, judges and attorneys for the state agree that potassium chloride is excruciatingly painful if given to a conscious person.
The botched execution of Clayton Lockett on April 29 has sparked a nationwide discussion about the death penalty and new scrutiny in how Oklahoma and other states put people to death.
Editor's Note: This story is the third in a three-part series examining problems with Oklahoma's lethal injection process.