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Whatever one's feelings about the morality or the effectiveness of the death penalty, can we all agree that when a state carries out an execution, it must know that its protocol will act effectively and avoid gratuitous suffering?:

(AP) An Oklahoma inmate whose execution was halted Tuesday because the delivery of a new drug combination was botched died of a heart attack, the head of the state Department of Corrections said.

Director Robert Patton said inmate Clayton Lockett died Tuesday after all three drugs were administered.

Patton halted Lockett's execution about 20 minutes after the first drug was administered. He said there was a vein failure.

The execution began at 6:23 p.m. when officials began administering the first drug, and a doctor declared Lockett to be unconscious at 6:33 p.m.

About three minutes later, though, Lockett began breathing heavily, writhing on the gurney, clenching his teeth and straining to lift his head off the pillow. After about three minutes, a doctor lifted the sheet that was covering Lockett to examine the injection site. After that, an official who was inside the death chamber lowered the blinds, preventing those in the viewing room from seeing what was happening.

Patton then made a series of phone calls before calling a halt to the execution. He also issued a 14-day postponement in the execution of inmate Charles Warner, who had been scheduled to die on Tuesday, two hours after Lockett was put to death.

"It was extremely difficult to watch," Lockett's attorney, David Autry, said afterward. He also questioned the amount of the sedative midazolam that was given to Lockett, saying he thought it was "an overdose quantity." It was the first time Oklahoma administered midazolam as the first drug in its execution drug combination.

I thought that Mengele had established a precedent that captives not be used to beta-test drugs or experimental protocols. Then again, the past decade has laid waste to the idea that there are things that Americans simply "don't do." Unfortunately, Oklahoma's actions lend support to my earlier expectation that shortages of drugs comprising the standard lethal-injection protocol would not cause (blood-) red states to rethink their reliance on capital punishment. Instead of suspending executions or seeking other methods, states will be winging it (decidedly NSFW). It is unclear how this kind of amateurism comports with the "evolving standards of decency" that control our understanding of the Eighth Amendment's strictures against "cruel and unusual punishment." But without a wave of public revulsion against actions like Oklahoma's, it will be hard to convince the requisite number of appellate judges to rethink the death penalty.

(cross-posted at

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Comment Preferences

  •  While They Could Get a Fatal Dose of Herion On the (8+ / 0-)

    street for a few bucks, the risk of pleasure is too great.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 08:10:46 PM PDT

    •  I just said similar in another diary (6+ / 0-)

      but morphine as we do for people that are terminally ill. To "ease their pain" but the side effect is often hastening death as they fall asleep and stop breathing. Too much pleasure for them, I also said.

      We have plenty of morphine...plenty of heroin too. WTF is wrong  with them?

    •  Not advocating for the use of any drug to (0+ / 0-)

      deliberately kill people, but -

      - the use of heroin would allow the state to demonstrate the risk of heroin overdose.  Surprised they haven't thought of it already, except that 1) not sure even the state can use an illegal drug on humans for any reason, and 2) even if they could, they would be in effect demonstrating a "legitimate" use for a banned drug.  

      That might build a rhetorical bridge to their disproven but stubbornly held claim that there's no legitimate use for marijuana, and that's a bridge too far for them.

      And that would put them on the horns of a dilemma, with zeal for their "drug war" industry  militating against their institutional lust for blood.

      Tough choice for a capitalist dispenser of death.

      Ted Cruz president? Pardon my Vietnamese, but Ngo Pho King Way.

      by ZedMont on Wed Apr 30, 2014 at 03:51:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just say no (8+ / 0-)

    to death by government, which has a 4% error rate. Not 4% don't die, 4% are innocent.

    Didn't the Supreme Court throw out all the death penalty laws in the 70s because of horror shows like this? Or was it Congress? Someone help us out here.

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 08:48:49 PM PDT

  •  I'm saddened (0+ / 0-)

    But unfortunately not surprised, at the hard hearted responses I see here and other supposedly progressive forums.  The blood lust for retribution overwhelms the supposed sanctity of the Constitution for many.

    For those who have "no sympathy" for the killlers, please specify exactly what parts of the Constitution are optional, and exactly what circumstances you can ignore them.  And what would stop the state from deciding, in secret, that your constitutional rights are no longer valid?

    No matter how you look at it, this was "unusual", and the secrecy the states are hiding behind indicate that these officials know they are violating the Constitution.

    Thousands of pets are euthanized effectively and humanely every day, but as a society we can't be as effective for people.  It's odd that so many are willing to trash our laws out of spite for the condemned, but somehow adopting a protocol used for animals is a bridge too far?

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