The penalty was death, not torture

Locket

Clayton Lockett

Clayton Lockett was a very bad man. He beat 19-year-old Stephanie Nieman, shot her twice, and then buried her alive. If ever a man deserved the death penalty, it was Lockett.

But something truly horrible happened at his execution in Oklahoma this week. An untested drug combination, from an unidentified source, did not work. It may have been the drugs or it may have the failure to administer them properly (a vein burst during the injection and not all the drug went to the right place). The details are vivid, disturbing, and available elsewhere. Suffice it to say that 10 minutes after the injection began, Lockett was still alive, speaking, and trying to get up. The execution was stopped, and Lockett finally died of a heart attack 45 minutes after the execution began.

The world has taken note of this American travesty/tragedy. We have been, for a while, the only first world country that still imposes the death penalty. How barbaric we must look now. Lethal injection was supposed to be so “civilized.”

This may well be the end of the death penalty, at least by lethal injection. Botched injections have happened before, and it’s hard to imagine any state now wants to risk being next. Especially when more and more pharmaceutical companies are refusing to provide the drugs. They all fear a catastrophic loss of legitimate business if word gets out they are supplying drugs for executions. That leaves states to get drugs from less desirable sources or have them compounded by companies that are not as closely regulated. And in Oklahoma they were using an untested drug cocktail (kind of hard to test how something kills humans without using it on a human).

I’ve not been opposed to the death penalty up till now. I still think some crimes warrant it, and Lockett’s was one of those. But no one deserves to die as Lockett did. And no state should be guilty of doing that to a human being.

I’ve never understood why we can put our beloved pets to sleep so peacefully, quickly, and painlessly with a single injection, but use some complicated, difficult-to-administer drug cocktail for condemned prisoners. Why can’t we use the same drug for human executions? If not that, why not lethal doses of morphine or heroin, or the anesthesia used in hospitals?

We condemn criminals to death, not to torture. It’s the death penalty, not the torture penalty. If we can’t deliver as promised, we should change the law.



Categories: Law

20 replies

  1. This certainly was a travesty. I’ve wondered the same about the drugs being used, but I suspect it’s likely a medical ethics issue. One thing I do know is I would find it difficult, if not impossible to sit on a jury that was contemplating the killing of another human being, no matter how horrendous the crime. There’s all those cases they are finding where the wrong person was sentenced. 😳

    • Although I’ve been called several times, I’ve never actually been selected for a jury, so I’ve no idea what jury duty is actually like — especially on a tough case. I might have been able to deal with a death penalty case before, but certainly not now that we know how badly these lethal injections can be botched.

  2. It wasn’t an execution it was cold blooded murder.

    The US of A is in fine company Saudi Arabia springs to mind first. The US condemn the Chinese but at least they are quick, a bullet in the head not exactly clean but quick!.

    The English used to hang their condemned and it was quick and clean, Albert Pierpoint was renowned for his speed and efficiency in dispatching the condemned. His record was 7 seconds.

    I am against capital punishment in any shape or form and am grateful that I live in a civilized society that does not practice this degrading act.of deliberately killing human beings no matter how warranted it may seem..

    • Well, one look at our out-of-control gun culture and you know you can’t call this nation completely civilized yet. Certainly not like the Brits and Aussies, for example, where guns are so rare. We are still very much the Old Wild West, only slightly advanced beyond the “frontier justice” of hanging or shooting the guilty on the spot. Lethal injection was supposed to be quicker and more humane than shooting or hanging, but if that ever was true, it certainly isn’t anymore. But surely some of our fine gun-toting citizens will volunteer for firing squad duty …

      • Your post seems to be creating quite a deal of interest, then again it’s a subject that always has.

        Sometime ago I wrote two blogs/posts on the subject and I thought you and your readers may like to see how an English/Australian person sees and feels about this subject;

        http://lordbeariofbow.com/2012/03/06/capital-punishment/

        http://lordbeariofbow.com/2012/03/09/capital-punishment-2/

        • You’ve reminded me of something I meant to mention earlier. The U.S. is a relatively young country compared to England, and I think that may have a bearing on our “less civilized” society. Also, Brits got a handle on the gun issue very early, before it got completely out of hand as it has here. It’s my impression that this is both the cause and the result of our being a more violent society. Not sure where I’m going with all this except that violence begets violence … Maybe we’d give up the death penalty if there weren’t so many murders …

          • Australia is much younger still;but I think we learned from the mistakes made in England. Too having been settled mainly by convicts the outlook on life and respect for it is much stronger I think than a country that was settled by religious people who seem to have little regard for the life we have but only for the after life, (wont they be disappointed?).

            It seems to me there is far to much tolerance of religious excess in the USA than would be acceptable in this country. Trouble is though that the Americans seem to be very selective in their interpretation, Sometimes it’s turn the other cheek (rarely but okay if you’re rich and famous) as suggested by the Christians but mostly it seems an eye for an eye (OT) predominates when push comes to shove

            Perhaps if there was no death penalty.there might not be so many murders, How many people are killed because they can identify a criminal and send him/her off for a holiday at the peoples expense? I suggest there would be quite a few.

            Minnesota abolished the death penalty in 1911 ( long before England and Australia saw the light) In 2012 there were 99 murders throughout the state and 1638 cases or rape and 7207 cases of aggravated assault reported.

            Which begs the question; How many of the 1638 rapes and 7207 assaults would have been turned into murders had there have been a death penalty? I suggest many many more, and many gong unsolved.

            • This country was founded in large part by people fleeing religious persecution in Europe. So you’d think maybe we’d have more tolerance for other religions, wouldn’t you? But no, it often seems the thinking is, “We founded this country so only our religion is tolerated.” They don’t seem to realize how hypocritical their self-righteousness is. And the excesses are tolerated because, hey, it’s only excess when someone else does it.

              And we struggle constantly with the interpretation and reinterpretation of the rights and freedoms protected in our Constitution. What did our founders intend? Is it or should it still be applicable in our modern society?

              As for Minnesota in particular … there are so many variables to consider. Maybe they just have fewer guns. Maybe the people are more religious. Maybe there are fewer violent people living there, or fewer large metro areas, or better law enforcement … or … or …

  3. We’re not as one on this, Susan: I don’t support the death penalty at all. However, I shan’t state my reasons here – this is your blog, not mine. But the most revolting aspect of this episode, imo, was the State Governor’s standing in front of news cameras and defending the delivery of lethal injections.

    • I encourage you to state your reasons; that’s what this comment section is for. Discussion from all points of view (see my comments policy).

      No, I don’t care for Gov. Fallin either. And ordering an investigation of her own people by her own people is obviously pointless. She’ll come out smelling like a rose, regardless.

      • In which case, I can say I believe there to be no justification for our killing each other under ANY circumstances: we become mere murderers. And another problem with the death penalty is that while some murderers may have been seen to carry out their crimes, of the many who weren’t there have been far too many we killed wrongly, with subsequent events proving someone else to have done the murder. But that’s less meaningful to me, amazingly: I’ll never be able to accept the idea of a group of people coming together to kill a person, no matter what happened beforehand.

        • Well, at this point I still think some crimes are heinous enough to warrant the death penalty. But I also think lethal injections should be suspended until we can assure this sort of thing won’t happen again. There is some terrible incompetence here somewhere that needs to be eliminated.

  4. Just a couple of thoughts: First, I don’t get the difference between “lethal injections” and “assisted suicides”…aren’t both helping someone die prematurely? The only difference is who is administering the drugs and why. Second, the states that are using the “lethal injection cocktails” that are oh unknown origin and composition, will not stop. Look at their legislatures and governors. What happened in Oklahoma would not have happened if the governor would have listened to the Court there and not threatened to ignore it. Then one of the legislators threatened to have the members who voted against the execution impeached. I’m wondering if the governor and the legislator will be impeached for pushing the execution that ended up being torture? Doubt it!

    • Oh I think there’s a huge difference between lethal injection and assisted suicide — and frankly hope assisted suicide is made much more widely available to the elderly and suffering who might want it (including yours truly). But you do raise an interesting point: wouldn’t Dr. Kevorkian’s drug mix work just as well for executions?

      I haven’t heard if other states are planning to stop their executions. With the growing difficulty of obtaining the necessary drugs, I’d hope most would stop (I’m guessing Texas won’t, however. That’s not Rick Perry’s style.)

      Oklahoma’s governor did not take it upon herself to ignore a court ruling. It was the State Supreme Court that overruled a lower court’s stay of execution.

  5. This was disgusting. Some may actually say some sort of karma happened here.
    Just FYI to pet owners – discovered that vets can botch putting animals down, too – saw it. Talk about outraged. Poor thing was in pain and the idiot botched it.
    This takes skill.
    There should be no room for errors for man nor beast.
    There is a place for death penalty. Some crimes demand it. But do it right.
    As you say, assisted suicide is possible – so no excuses. (Will have to check into why Kevorkian method isn’t used – seems logical)

    • Many have already said it was karma. I think they’re disgusting.
      As for the vets, I suppose a bad doc is a bad doc, whether MD or DVM. I’m glad I didn’t witness what you did. I probably would never have gotten over it.

      • The world, nature, karma, God – whatever – really is totally unconcerned about what happens to one small individual of one small species. (Isn’t the indifference of environment/nature the philosophy behind authors such as Thomas Hardy? You were forced to read “Return of the Native” – at least segments in school – everyone was…he rambled on and on and on about the indifference of the environment)
        A botched vet attempt makes you really wary. In any case, I’ve never left an animal off at the vet so it could be taken care of…brought up with the idea that once you take in an animal, you are responsible to the end of its’ life – that means being there to make sure it’s as comfortable as possible and not afraid. That woman was lucky I didn’t deck her. Never went back and spread the word as widely as possible.

"Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance." ~ Plato

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