Published on: Friday, February 17, 2023

Oklahoma’s “nonstop executions” traumatized corrections staff, leaving them vulnerable to mental health distress and botched procedures, nine former Department of Corrections officials warned last month (article available here).

“Reports from the Oklahoma State Penitentiary describe near-constant mock executions being conducted within earshot of prisoners’ cells, staff offices, and visiting rooms,” according to a letter to state Attorney General Gentner Drummond. “Correctional staff have communicated privately with visiting defense mental health experts about the distress they are experiencing due to the nonstop executions.”

The letter, dated Jan. 13, asked to petition courts for a revised execution schedule “spacing them a minimum of several months apart to ensure the safety and well-being of the state’s correctional employees.”

“That relentless pace of executions means the prison never really returns to normal operations after the emotional and logistical upheaval of an execution,” the former DOC officials wrote in the letter.

The letter from former corrections officials cited statistics showing an increased risk of suicide, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and substance abuse for those who carry out executions.