Thursday, May 29, 2014

Oklahoma's Bothced Execution

I have to say-- this is probably something your state doesn't want to be known for. Last post, I discussed how EU pharmaceutical companies are refusing to allow their drugs to be used in executions.

More recently, was the botched execution of Oklahoma prisoner, Clayton Lockett.

What's interesting is that in Oklahoma, the drug cocktail was kept "secret" by law and therefore was prohibitive in allowing the prisoner's lawyer to file a cruel and unusual claim because they didn't actually know what they were using. Even though the law was deemed unconstitutional, Clayton only had one month left to live and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals refused to stay the execution.

For the first time, the Oklahoma Supreme Court issued a stay but got so much political pressure that it reversed itself two days later.

It's hard to piece together exactly what went wrong, but in this CNN account, the IV "blew" which means the vein ruptured and the medication likely went into the tissue versus staying in the venous system which likely delayed the onset of the medication. Reports state death ensued approx 45 minutes after the first drug was given.

They stopped the process but the prisoner succumbed to a heart attack. In my medical opinion, this was caused by the potassium injection.

What is complicating death by lethal injection is the "preferred" drugs for sedation cannot be used due to a mandate by EU pharmaceutical companies so alternatives for the sedative drug are trying to be found.

In the Oklahoma situation-- it says the drugs are administered simultaneously by three different executioners. From a medical standpoint-- this probably isn't wise. A step-fold process would be better. If given one at a time, there would be less pressure on the line and less chance the vein would blow and you could ensure the sedative worked prior to administering the subsequent drugs making for a more "humane" execution.

Because of the problems now with lethal injection, a Utah State Representative is proposing the return of the firing squad

What do you think of the death penalty? Which method do you think is most "humane"?


  1. This was awful. I followed the botched execution via one of my reporter friends on Twitter, who was at the scene when it happened. Her mentor, who has witnessed many, many executions, said it was the worst thing she's ever seen by far.

    It's ridiculous how many people wrote this off, saying "justice was served either way" and "remember his victim's family." No matter how you spin it, the state of Oklahoma failed, and I look forward to seeing what their investigations turn up.

    And yes, I shook my head as my state only makes the news for stuff like this!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Laurie. I'm sure your friend has a very interesting perspective.

  2. I used to be a staunch supporter of the death penalty. But after so many people have been freed from death row and life imprisionment sentences, cleared by DNA evidence, I decided a couple of years ago that unless they have incontravertible evidence (video tape, DNA evidence) and not just circumstantial and fallible witness testimony, it's not worth risking an innocent person dying. Life in prison is cheaper than endless rounds of death penalty appeals. And now botched executions. I'm NOT saying some prisoners don't deserve to die for their heinous crimes. I still believe THAT. However, considering the number of people we'll never know that have been innocent and executed for crimes they didn't commit, it's not worth the risk, IMO.

    1. Tymber, I could agree with you on that. Though I am in favor of the death penalty I think the standards for sentencing someone to death should be quite high and I like what you recommend-- strong DNA evidence or video of the crime. One case I just saw on 48 hours had a phone recording of the 45 minutes it took for a woman to be murdered. I would consider that good enough as well. Excellent points.