Friday, 11 April 2008
Kentucky releases rules for executions----Supreme Court orders Kentucky to
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
(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
(Redacted) reviews nursing and doctors 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 condemneds 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 inmates medical or
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 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
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
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
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
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
b)A medical crash cart and defibrillator shall be located in the execution
(source: Louisville Courier-Journal)