Inside Look: Lethal Injection Chamber

Nebraska prison workers have received the training needed to execute prisoners using lethal injection protocol, but the state is still waiting on the drugs.  Nebraska Department of Correctional Services Director Robert Houston discussed the state's readiness for an execution on Wednesday, after state officials publicly unveiled the new execution chamber.

There is a worldwide shortage of an anesthetic used in lethal injections. But the lack of drugs is not expected to delay executions in Nebraska because anticipated legal challenges could put capital punishment on hold for several years.

Lawmakers replaced electrocution with lethal injection following a 2008 state supreme court ruling that the electric chair was cruel and unusual punishment.

Houston explains the lethal injection process.  “The escort team is responsible for bringing the person into the room and then the strap down procedure begins.  The IV team does the connection.  Myself and the warden are present in the room, the witnesses are brought in and the procedure is carried out.”

The IV team monitors the inmate on a computer screen and a windowed room allows up to 13 people to watch it.

Dennis Bakewell, the jail's warden, says there are a number of people on the team who have done this before.  “What we look for are people who have a fair amount of experience at the penitentiary who have a good experience, good skills with inmates and are pretty even-tempered type of people.”

Now all the chamber needs are the drugs to complete the execution.  Houston says as soon as they get them, they'll be prepared.  He's confident the procedure will go on without any problems.  “We make certain that the plan that you saw, the equipment that we have, the procedure we have, the protocol is in line with the practice we think are going to be successful.”

There are currently 12 inmates on death row but no executions are expected to take place anytime soon, mainly because of all the legal issues that come up with a death sentence.

The electric chair is now in storage on the state pen grounds.