Despite Oklahoma death row inmate Clayton Lockett dying during a botched execution, I doubt American states who rely on it will rethink their stance on the death penalty.
It would be far too inhumane to hang or behead a person so the US try to carry out the death penalty as quickly as possible using a mixture of cocktails which includes a sedative.
On 29 April Clayton Lockett was scheduled to die by lethal injection. Unfortunately for Lockett, thirteen minutes after a doctor administered a lethal injection cocktail at the state’s death chamber in McAlester, Lockett was still able to talk and at one point muttered ‘Man’. This caused the doctor to halt the execution.
Lockett suffered a massive heart attack about 30-40 minutes after the doctor had called a halt to the procedure, raising more questions about new death penalty cocktails used by the state and others.
Jerry Massie, the Oklahoma state corrections department spokesman, said: “We believe that a vein was blown and the drugs weren’t working as they were designed to.”
Oklahoma had set up a new lethal injection procedure and cocktail of chemicals earlier this year after it was no longer able to obtain the drugs it had once used for executions.
Oklahoma and other states have been scrambling to find new suppliers and chemical combinations after drug makers, mostly in Europe, imposed sales bans because they objected to having medications made for other purposes being used in lethal injections.
The troubled execution was expected to have national implications, with lawyers for death row inmates having argued that new lethal injection cocktails used in Oklahoma and other states could cause undue suffering and violate constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.
Earlier Lockett’s last meal request had been denied because it exceeded the $15 budget.
Another death row inmate, Charles Warner was scheduled to be executed in the same room as Lockett at 8pm, using the same chemicals.
“After weeks of Oklahoma refusing to disclose basic information about the drugs for tonight’s lethal injection procedures, tonight Clayton Lockett was tortured to death,” said Madeline Cohen, an attorney for Warner.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma called for an immediate moratorium on all executions pending the outcome of the investigation into Lockett’s execution.
“In Oklahoma’s haste to conduct a science experiment on two men behind a veil of secrecy, our state has disgraced itself before the nation and world,” said Ryan Kiesel, ACLU of Oklahoma executive director.
A four-time felon, Lockett, 38, was convicted of shooting 19-year-old Stephanie Neiman with a sawed-off shotgun and watching as two accomplices buried her alive in rural Kay County in 1999 after Neiman and a friend arrived at a home the men were robbing.
46-year-old Warner was convicted of raping and killing his roommate’s 11-month-old daughter in 1997. He has maintained his innocence.
It was the first time since 1937 that two men were to have been executed on the same day in Oklahoma, although it has happened in other states since the death penalty was reinstated in the US in 1976. The last double execution was in Texas in 2000.
Lockett and Warner had sued the state for refusing to disclose details about the execution drugs, including where Oklahoma obtained them.
Lethal injection is anything but humane. It can cause excruciating pain.
Clayton Lockett’s execution isn’t the first to be botched. A number of lethal injection executions have been botched in the US. Some executions have lasted between 20 minutes to over an hour and prisoners have been seen gasping for air, grimacing and convulsing during executions. Autopsies have shown severe, foot-long chemical burns to the skin and needles have been found in soft tissue.