DOC gives tour of renovated death chamber

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MCALESTER, Okla. -   Oklahoma's death chamber gets a makeover in McAlester with the hopes of avoiding a repeat performance from April.

Department of Corrections officials gave the media a tour of the renovations to the execution room - changes that were recommended by the Department of Public Safety in their review of the botched execution of Clayton Lockett.

Lockett was convicted in the 1999 murder of 19 year old Stephanie Neiman.

Scott Crow, DOC administrator of field operations, said the operations room, which sits right next to the execution room, was expanded in order to store additional supplies of lethal drugs and equipment.

Because officials had difficulty locating a vein in Clayton Lockett, they will use an ultrasound machine for future executions.

Charles Warner, the man who was supposed to be executed right after Lockett, is set to be executed in November.

Also in the operations room, an EKG machine to monitor the inmate's heart.

Crow said DOC Director Robert Patton will now sit inside that room, right next to a phone bank with immediate access to the Governor and other officials, in the event there is a problem.

He will also keep watch of two screens that are connected to two ceiling cameras in the execution room.

Officials say if an IV were dislodged from a vein again - which DPS identified as the single greatest factor that contributed to the difficulty in administering the execution drugs with Lockett - they would immediately be aware of it.

However, they offered no specifics on how they would be aware of an IV insertion problem.

Lockett's right groin - the area eventually selected to receive the lethal drugs - had been covered to hide his genital area from the witness room.

Officials didn't notice the IV had dislodged from his femoral vein until several minutes had passed and they discovered a swelling in his tissue that was nearly the size of a tennis ball.

Because of limited space, officials say the expansion of the operations room reduced seating from 25 to 19 chairs.

The media will only have five seats.

Before the tour, a DOC official said they did not want to take seats away from family members, attorneys and spiritual advisers.

In the decade prior to Lockett's execution, a DOC spokesperson said an average of three media members attended executions in McAlester.

They say media seating preference will be given to Oklahoma media.

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