Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Oh Oklahoma!

Clayton Lockett began to convulse and mumble before he sat up on the gurney and said “something’s wrong” about 15 minutes after the execution at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary began, KJRH-TV reported.

An Associated Press reporter noted Lockett was “breathing heavily, writhing on the gurney, clenching his teeth and straining to lift his head off the pillow.” Reports also indicate he uttered “oh, man.”

Prison officials closed the blinds minutes later ..…

Clayton Lockett died of a heart attack more than 40 minutes after the start of the execution.

For years I was on the fence when it came to the death penalty.  Troy Davis changed that.  I’m not sure why his case struck me so forcefully but it did.  Then I started noticing the utter inequity that people were pointing out.  In Oklahoma, for example, the black population is less than 8% but the percentage on death row is over 40%.  But that’s because black people commit more violent crimes I’m sure.  Yes, that is sarcasm.

Then we can take a look at the crimes for which people are sentenced to death.  I guess there is some room for differing opinions but the death penalty, if there has to be one, should be reserved for the very worst crimes but I noticed, as I watched darned near every true crime series Netflix streams, that law enforcement officials more often than not claim that the crime deserves the death penalty.  Of course, these shows often highlight terrible crimes but what crime isn’t.  That’s why is a crime.

The one argument that didn’t hold much water with me against the death penalty was the “cruel and unusual” one.  For a long time I thought it was okay if the executed suffered because his/her victim(s) had.  But I’ve evolved on that as well although I cannot give a time or reason why.  The description of Lockett’s execution sickens me as it should sicken anyone with an ounce of compassion (and there are some who last night showed what asses they can be).  People do not have a right to do this to one another.  Governments do not have a right to do this to its citizens.

Here’s a top ten list I’d rather not be on:

 photo death_zps1058bbf8.jpg

What makes the Lockett execution, and others, so much worse is that states are trying combinations of drugs that they have no idea will work.  And maybe it is unfair to go after Oklahoma since Ohio had a very similar botched execution

The state will increase the amount of sedative and painkiller used in the two-drug injection, however, to “allay any remaining concerns”.

McGuire “did not experience pain, distress or air hunger after the drugs were administered or when the bodily movements and sounds occurred,” according to a Department of Rehabilitation and Correction review.

“His execution was conducted in a constitutional manner consistent with the policy.”

Witnesses said McGuire – who raped and killed a pregnant woman in 1989 – gasped for up to 26 minutes on 16 January before he died from the sedative midazolam and painkiller hydromorphone.

It is the longest execution since Ohio resumed the practice in 1999.

The state was forced to change its lethal injection to a new two-drug cocktail after the Danish maker of the previous execution drug refused to allow its use in capital punishment.

States are scrambling because overseas drug companies refuse to provide their products to be used in executions.  So states are trying combinations that have not been tried before thus making these executions test sites.

And not of this yet mentions the number of people on death row who might actually be innocent.

Science and law have led to the exoneration of hundreds of criminal defendants in recent decades, but big questions remain: How many other innocent defendants are locked up? How many are wrongly executed?

About one in 25 people imprisoned under a death sentence is likely innocent, according to a new statistical study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And that means it is all but certain that at least several of the 1,320 defendants executed since 1977 were innocent, the study says.

The article goes on:

The study concluded that the number of innocent defendants who have been put to death is “comparatively low. … Our data and the experience of practitioners in the field both indicate that the criminal justice system goes to far greater lengths to avoid executing innocent defendants than to prevent them from remaining in prison indefinitely.”

I, for one, do not find “comparatively low” all that comforting.


  1. HappyinVT

    I am saying this quite deliberately. The state of Oklahoma committed an act of fucking barbarism last night. It did so under the color of law, which makes every citizen of that benighted state complicit in the act of fucking barbarism. The governor of that state, a pink balloon named Mary Fallin, is a fucking barbarian. A state legislator named Mike Christian is a fucking barbarian, for reasons we will get to in a moment. Every politician in that benighted state belongs in a fucking cage this morning.  I am saying this quite deliberately. The state of Oklahoma committed an act of fucking barbarism last night. It did so under the color of law, which makes every citizen of that benighted state complicit in the act of fucking barbarism. The governor of that state, a pink balloon named Mary Fallin, is a fucking barbarian. A state legislator named Mike Christian is a fucking barbarian, for reasons we will get to in a moment. Every politician in that benighted state belongs in a fucking cage this morning.

    Anyone who reads Pierce regularly knows he doesn’t usually use the whole f-word.  He does in this piece regularly and frequently.  And I cannot disagree with any of them.

  2. State-Sponsored Horror in Oklahoma

    This horrific scene – the very definition of cruel and unusual punishment – should never have happened. The Oklahoma Supreme Court tried to stop it last week, concerned that the state refused to reveal the origin of the deadly cocktail. But several lawmakers threatened to impeach the justices, and Gov. Mary Fallin blindly ignored the warning signs and ordered the execution to proceed.

    Mr. Lockett’s ordeal, along with the botched deaths of other inmates around the country, showed there is no reliable and humane method of execution. As Gov. John Kitzhaber of Oregon said in 2011: “I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer; and I will not allow further executions while I am governor.”[…]

    Jurists and lawmakers are increasingly aware that an immediate moratorium on death is the only civilized response to this arbitrary cruelty. As Wallace Carson Jr., the former chief justice of the Oregon Supreme Court, put it recently, “the exceptional cost of death penalty cases and the seemingly haphazard selection of which cases deserve the death penalty outweigh any perceived public benefit of this sanction.”

    The “exceptional cost” refers not just to dollars and cents. It refers to the moral diminishment of the United States when a man dies by the hasty hand of government, writhing in pain.

  3. I hope real change comes from it. In New Hampshire, their state senate deadlocked 12 to 12 on a bill to ban the death penalty. Maybe this will convince one of those people to change their mind. Or enough citizens to light up the phone lines and insist that their state senator change their vote.

    Cruel But Not Unusual How Oklahoma botched Clayton Lockett’s execution

    In that case, Lockett’s IV would have been inserted by an EMT or a “person with similar qualifications and experience in IV insertion,” according to the protocol. This is a harder job than you might think, especially in prisons, where inmates are often overweight and inactive, making their veins difficult to find. (Though Lockett’s lawyer insisted his client “had large arms and very prominent veins.”) There is little oversight of the state’s selection of the individuals tasked with inserting the IV, whether they are physicians or paramedics. And this is the stage where, in the past, many executions have gone wrong. In 2006, a prisoner in Florida named Angel Diaz died a death similar to Lockett’s: After a blown vein, the chemicals pooled in his arms, causing burns. Diaz needed a second dose of drugs and took 34 minutes to die. That same year, in Ohio, Joseph Clark’s execution took 86 minutes as EMTs struggled to find a vein. In 2009, an EMT in Ohio jabbed Rommell Broom with a needle 18 times trying to establish access. His execution was eventually postponed: He walked out of the death chamber alive. At that time, Deborah Denno, a professor of law at Fordham University, told me Broom’s execution was “the worst botched execution that has happened in the history of this country.”

    The autopsy will tell us more.

    We will learn more about Lockett’s death in the coming days. It seems likely, though, based on the little we do know and similar cases in the past, that Lockett suffered not because the drugs did not work as they were supposed to, but rather because the people in charge of his execution made basic medical errors. The whole point of lethal injection, when it was invented, was to soften the image of capital punishment by making it look like an ordinary medical procedure. But then most medical professionals balked at participating-and so this medical procedure usually fell to people who were less qualified to perform it.

  4. … because those pesky “anti-death penalty” people will harass the drug makers! Leave the killing-people drug makers aloooooooooone!!!!

    Editorial: After botched Oklahoma execution, thorough vetting of procedure is warranted

    Appeals by attorneys for Lockett and Warner focused on the source and veracity of the drugs used by the state – midazolam, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride. The attorney general’s office says it provided defense attorneys with all pertinent information about the drugs, including expiration dates and verification that they’re FDA approved. As allowed by state law, the AG hasn’t provided the source. This is because drug makers get harassed by anti-death penalty groups, some to the point that they stop providing them to states.

    They should be harassed into not providing them to the states. A pharmaceutical company making a drug that kills should be hounded mercilessly. How can they promote their life saving drugs when they are creating life ending drugs in the same factories and in the same labs?  

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