Oklahoma was to execute Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner last night. Lockett went first. Things didn’t quite go as planned for Lockett, as reflected in this series of twits (to read from the bottom up) posted by Gideon.
The way it’s supposed to work is that a sedative is introduced to render the prisoner unconscious, and then drugs are used to end his life. Lockett didn’t comply.
Jeff Gamso writes:
Of course now, with things absolutely having gone south, a clear mess. Grotesque. They closed the curtain. Witnesses only get to witness what the state wants them to see, after all. But it was too late. They’d seen. They’d heard. They knew the bullshit.
Yet the office of Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin issued a statement indicating “execution officials said Lockett remained unconscious after the lethal injection drugs were administered.”
Anyway, they threw in the towel. Called off the effort to kill Lockett tonight.
Lockett ended up dying of a heart attack anyway. Warner got a reprieve until the folks in Oklahoma figure out why their death protocol is not okay.
It’s not that Lockett or Warner are good guys, or sympathetic defendants. They’re not. But that’s not the point. As Gamso, ironically, wrote the day before:
[There was] no evidence that [fill in the blank] experienced any pain, distress or anxiety.
How do they know? Did they ask him?
Hey, Den. You know when we killed you? Did it hurt?
No answer? Guess not.
This time, they could have asked, because Lockett didn’t die the way he was supposed to. But they didn’t have to ask. They already knew the answer.
As Turley notes,
this incident comes a day after the release of a new report showing over four percent of death row inmates are likely innocent. The calculation of one in 25 death row being innocent in the study contradicts the earlier statistical data offered by Associate Justice Antonin Scalia in a concurring opinion in 2007 when he said that the error rate was 0.027 percent “or, to put it another way, a success rate of 99.973 percent.”
Are you good with this? Executions aren’t some theoretical, abstract occurrence, reduced to bloodless, painless, medical perfection, of only the guilty, the “worst of the worst.” They’re real, and what happened to Lockett was real, just as the killing of Todd Cameron Willingham was real.
We don’t know what we’re doing. We can’t do it right. And it seems we don’t give a rat’s ass.