Open thread – Oklahoma’s “botched” execution of Clayton Lockett

Oklahoma doesn’t make the news very often, and when it does the news is usually bad or odd.

The controversial April 29th execution of Clayton Lockett was last week’s entry into the Oklahoma Bad News Hall of Fame.

If you want a textbook example of a man who belonged on Death Row, you need look no further than Lockett.  He had just been released from prison (where he served time for conspiracy to commit embezzlement, burglary and knowingly concealing stolen property) when he and two accomplices decided to raid a house where a man who owed Lockett money was living.  The botched home invasion ended in assault, kidnapping, rape, and murder.  The victim, Stephanie Nieman, had the misfortune of arriving at the home while Lockett and his accomplices were there.  You can read the grisly details of her death here.

Lockett’s pending execution had already been the subject of controversy earlier this year.  The combination of lethal drugs that Oklahoma had successfully used for years was no longer available, since the manufacturer of one of the drugs decided to halt production over concerns about its use as an ingredient in the lethal injection cocktail.  After assessing the situation, the state of Oklahoma decided to proceed with the execution but to use a different combination of drugs, which resulted in a one month stay of execution for Lockett and for Charles Warner, who was scheduled to be executed on the same day as Lockett.

The new combination of drugs was not what led to problems with Lockett’s execution.  It turns out that Lockett had to be tasered when he refused to cooperate with authorities prior to his execution.  He had also been refusing to eat.  When he was finally brought to the death chamber, medical personnel could not find a suitable vein anywhere on his arms or legs, so they opted to place the IV in his groin area.

Authorities figured out that something was wrong when Lockett began to writhe and clench his fists a few minutes after the lethal drugs were injected.  He had first been given an anesthetic, which should have rendered him unconscious.  They soon discovered that the vein in his groin had collapsed and that the IV solution had either leaked out onto the table or flooded the tissue adjacent to the injection point.  There were not enough drugs remaining for the IV to be delivered again.  Shortly after the IV was stopped, Lockett died from an apparent heart attack.

Charles Warner, who had once again been scheduled for execution directly after Lockett, was given another stay as authorities began a formal investigation into the circumstances of Lockett’s death.

So what do we make of Lockett’s execution?  It did not go very smoothly, but ultimately it was successful.  Critics have been very harsh on Oklahoma authorities, who (they claim) seemed to be rushing Lockett and Warner’s execution without proper verification that the drugs they planned to use, in the amounts prescribed, would have worked.

Should Oklahoma revamp its procedures for the preparation of inmates for execution by lethal injection?  The only aspect of this case that really troubles me is the fact that prison authorities did not seem to have a plan for dealing with an inmate who had deep veins or some other medical condition that would make starting an IV difficult.  The death chamber is not the place for authorities to discover an inmate’s medical problems.

Do we really have, as President Obama suggested, a problem with “uneven” application of the death penalty based on race?  Do we also have a problem with the death penalty being overused in cases where the guilt of the accused is not certain?  Since neither of scenarios applied to the Lockett case, was it appropriate for the President to bring them up?

Talk amongst yourselves …

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  • jim_m

    Hanging used to work just fine. I have no idea why we went away from it. As for this being botched – He’s dead isn’t he? Seems like we achieved the desired result.

    • Brucehenry

      Congratulations you made the same ghoulish joke as Bill Maher.

      • jim_m

        Even Maher can be correct from time to time.

      • speciallist

        Dude, it was days ago…and what difference at this point does it make?

  • GarandFan

    Lockett’s execution went just fine. The only way it could have been better is if he’d been buried alive.

    Don’t know why the state(s) believe they need a ‘3 drug cocktail’. Phenobarbital all by itself will do the trick. You go to sleep………..and you don’t wake up.

    • Brucehenry

      Yeah me neither.

    • Brett Buck

      Does that cost more than a single round of 38 Special?

  • More people seem to be worrying about this guys horrible death than the horrible death of his victim. Something seems wrong here!

  • Commander_Chico

    Always wondered why people who profess to believe in “limited government” also say it should have the power to kill you.

    • So are you ignorant of the American Civil War or just of the opinion that the United States of American should not have prosecuted said war?

      • Commander_Chico

        Not sure what the Civil War has to do with capital punishment, that was a government vs government thing, not a government vs individual thing, but since there was no clause in the Constitution saying a state’s accession was irrevocable, the war had no legal basis in the Constitution.

        • You said power to kill.

          Write what you mean, mean what you write.

          And, as regards capital punishment for capital crimes, since the Constitution only limits the method of capital punishment (no “cruel or unusual”) it is implicitly granted the power. Just as the power to suppress rebellion is.

          • Commander_Chico

            Your values are confused. Since primary police powers are in the states, how could a sovereign state “rebel?” Sovereignty flows from the people to the states to the Federal government, not the other way around. The southern states through their elected representatives voted to secede. Nobody was “rebelling.”

            If slavery had not clouded the issue, nobody would question the right of a state to secede.

          • jim_m

            how could a sovereign state “rebel?”

            What do you then call the Confederacy you dumbass? You’re parsing words and not providing any meaningful difference.

          • Commander_Chico

            “Rebels” was a Union propaganda term from the Civil War. If it happened today, they would have called them “terrorists.”

            If Vermont or Texas voted to secede today, why should they be stopped? Principle of subsidiarity says the most local government is the best. Empires rot.

          • Hawk_TX

            It’s only rebelling if it is against the law of the land, the Constitution. Please site the specific provision of the Constitution that prohibits a state from seceding?

            If you can’t then the tenth amendment (The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor
            prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.) clearly leaves the power to secede in the hands of the states or the people.

    • Guest

      Limited doesn’t mean nonexistent. A framework is necessary – and having a way to punish criminals is pretty much inherent in that.

  • Tanuki Man

    Hire Anton Chigurh with the cattle bolt. Efficient, easy, inexpensive.

  • Hank_M

    Seems like a classic case of karma to me.
    I have ZERO sympathy for any suffering he experienced.

  • Lawrence Westlake

    The obvious solution is to bring back firing squads for the death penalty. Effective, cheap and foolproof. Hell, the only reason why we have these drug glitches is because liberal idiots (BIRM) and other effeminate sorts in the media, academe, politico classes wanted a more “humane” way to impose capital punishment, which all along was the stealth framework for outlawing it.

    • DaveTheLoveable

      Surprisingly I fully agree, I guess even a broken clock can be right 2 or 3 times a day…

      • Brucehenry

        Actually a broken clock can be right PRECISELY two times a day and never three.

        • DaveTheLoveable

          I knew lefties have no concept of humor, but damn… (btw, its a Goofy quote)