In a press conference held earlier today, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that the botched execution of Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett “fell short of the humane standards required when the death penalty is carried out,” according to the AP.
He went on to say that everyone could see that this was the case.
On Tuesday evening, Lockett died of a heart attack after waking up mid-execution.
According to the timeline, Lockett’s execution began at 6:23 pm. Ten minutes later, he was determined to be unconscious. A few minutes after the paralytic was administered, Lockett began moving and attempting to speak.
“Lockett grimaced and tensed his body several times over a three minute period before the execution was shielded from the press. After being declared unconscious ten minutes into the process, Lockett spoke at three separate moments. The first two were inaudible, however the third time he spoke, Lockett said the word ‘man,'” says one eyewitness account.
By 7:06, Lockett was declared dead due to an apparent heart attack.
The news flooded Twitter, and shortly after Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin issued a stay of execution for another death row inmate, who was set to be executed later that evening.
“I have asked the Department of Corrections to conduct a full review of Oklahoma’s execution procedures to determine what happened and why during this evening’s execution of Clayton Derrell Lockett,” said Fallin. “I have issued an executive order delaying the execution of Charles Frederick Warner for 14 days to allow for that review to be completed.”
I've postponed tonight's second execution and ordered an evaluation of Oklahoma's lethal dosage protocol.http://t.co/hqMhY3tX6J
— Governor Mary Fallin (@GovMaryFallin) April 30, 2014
For anti-Death Penalty advocates, the botched execution is another cruel example of a broken system. As supplies of lethal injection drugs become more and more scarce (mostly due to hesitant pharm companies), states like Oklahoma have been forced to adopt alternative drugs–drugs that are oftentimes held from pubic knowledge. There are worries that these drugs are unable to provide a humane death, although some would argue that there is no such thing even with the standard cocktail.
On Twitter, death penalty advocates pointed to the fact that Lockett’s crime, for which he was sentenced to death, involved the brutal death of a young woman whom he shot and then watched as she was buried alive.
There’s no doubt that this latest incident will spur fierce debate–even more so now that the White House has weighed in on it. It’s worth noting that the White House and President Obama’s official position on the Death Penalty is that it should be allowed, but only reserved for the most heinous of crimes. He does, however, feel that the Death Penalty has been proven to do little to deter crime.
Image via Wikimedia Commons