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Botched Execution Due to Black Market

What happened to Clayton Lockett – a 36-year-old Oklahoma inmate – was horrific, but unfortunately, not unusual. Considering the history of how the death penalty executions has been conducted in United States, that Lockett was forced to undergo 43 minutes of agonizing pain before finally succumbing to a heart is actually something that should have been anticipated.

Rachel Maddow in her show on April 30, explained in detail how global pressure – especially European pressure – against the the death penalty in America greatly contributed to the shortage of chemicals needed to make lethal injection drugs. This in turn led many U.S. states to seek unreliable and unsafe alternatives that have led to complications and botched executions.

Andrew Welsh-Huggins of Associated Press wrote on Huffington Post lists a number of other botched executions. In 2006 in Ohio, executioners needed more than an hour to put Joseph Clark to death because of trouble with his veins. It took 36 minutes for Angel Diaz to be put to death, and a later autopsy showed that the needles that were used to send the lethal drugs into his veins had penetrated his muscles. In 2009, Ohio abandoned an execution attempt after Romell Broom was pricked 18 times with needles. Broom remains on death row, challenging the state’s right to try again.

It’s evident that these people felt pain and suffered during execution. The new media spotlight on Lockett’s execution has invigorated American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawyers’ fight against the death penalty. They and other opponents of the death penalty have called for a moratorium on capital punishment. As before, the argument is on the grounds of the Eighth Amendment which requires that punishment be not unusual nor cruel. That these executions are cruel and unusual punishment, as before, will be hard to prove however.

Once a person is executed, there is no turning back. Years later a DNA evidence may prove someone innocent but if that happens after execution, then the death penalty allows for an innocent person to be executed, and usually in a painful, botched manner. That cases like Clayton Lockett’s execution are not unusual is troublesome just when considering how many death row inmates have been exonerated years or even decades after their conviction. CNN lists for example the numbers reported by the Innocence Project and just based on DNA analysis, over 311 individuals ended up exonerated. Imagine how many currently on death row are actually innocent but are fated end up like Clayton Lockett.

Photo Credit: DOC Photo

About the author

David Kwon is a freelance writer to Issue Hawk. He's currently a graduate student majoring in social work at New York University, mainly being trained to serve the poor and the homeless.