NPR posts, "The Executioner's Lament," by Laura Sullivan. There is audio at the link. Here's the beginning:
In 1977, death row inmate Gary Mark Gilmore chose to be executed by a firing squad. Gilmore was strapped to a chair at the Utah State Prison, and five officers shot him.
The media circus that ensued prompted a group of lawmakers in nearby Oklahoma to wonder if there might be a better way to handle executions. They approached Dr. Jay Chapman, the state medical examiner at the time, who proposed using three drugs, based loosely on anesthesia procedures at the time: one drug to knock out the inmates, one to relax or paralyze them, and a final drug that would stop their hearts.
The three-drug execution cocktail, which later became known as Chapman's Protocol, has been the preferred method across the U.S. ever since.
But last week's botched execution — in the same state where the technique was developed — has raised questions about execution norms. Although the drugs and the question of whether they work are at the center of the debate, the reality is executions are carried out by people, and people sometimes make mistakes.
Many also struggle with their involvement for years afterward.
Ziva Branstetter writes, "'Father of lethal injection' talks about history, his legacy to Oklahoma," for the Tulsa World.
Jay Chapman never wanted to be known for creating the lethal-drug cocktail first approved in Oklahoma and copied nationwide.
Chapman is proud of his role in creating Oklahoma's first medical examiner system, and he'd rather talk about that. During 11 years as the state's first chief medical examiner, he moved from performing autopsies in the bedroom of an old Oklahoma City house to opening two modern facilities equipped with morgues.
But he knows that's not what people really want to hear about, at least not right now, after the botched execution of Clayton Lockett at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary on April 29 made international headlines and sparked a national debate.
Earlier coverage from Oklahoma begins at the link.