Utah Considers Bringing Back Execution by Firing Squad. Is Oklahoma Far Behind?

PvtJohnsonsExecution

Representative Paul Ray of Utah has announced that he will introduce a measure to bring back execution by firing squad in the state.

Oklahoma’s botched execution of a few weeks ago has led to a rather ugly debate about the death penally in several quarters. This debate has ranged from calls for an end to the death penalty on one side of the argument to discussion of alternate means execution other than lethal injection on the other side.

Evidently, Utah has rescinded their earlier death penalty statute and must enact a new one to conduct executions by firing squad. We don’t have that problem in Oklahoma. Our law allows for the use of firing squads right now.

Frankly, I’m not sure what to make of all this. Not that I don’t understand the debate. I do. I am just somewhat befuddled by the recent attacks on lethal injection as a means of execution by those who are opposed to the death penalty.

Oklahoma has been the focus of this debate, both because of actions to delay executions that targeted the companies that manufacture these drugs, and because of the botched execution which may have been partly due to an inability to get enough of the correct drugs. I think the attorneys who raised this challenge may have been somewhat short-sighted, at least if their goal was to end the death penalty in Oklahoma.

The state has other means of execution available to it besides lethal injection. I have no doubt whatsoever that the legislative will is to use these means, if necessary.

I wrote at the beginning of this fiasco, when attorneys for death row inmates managed to get a temporary stay of execution by challenging an Oklahoma law that allowed anonymity for the companies that manufacture the drugs used in executions, that these attorneys should be careful what they wished for. I thought then and think now that this approach failed to consider what might be the ultimate consequences.

I know the people who make the laws of this state. I can tell you that there is no sympathy among them — including from me, despite the fact that I oppose the death penalty — for the next person awaiting execution in Oklahoma. This particular inmate raped and murdered an 11 month old baby. I’ve already discussed the heinous crime which the inmate who suffered the botched execution committed.

Not only is there no sympathy for these men, but very few of the lawmakers have any qualms about the death penalty itself. I have been an outlier on this issue throughout my legislative career. When you combine my opposition to the death penalty with my opposition to abortion/embryonic stem cell research/egg harvesting/euthanasia, etc, I have been unique.

The point is that the legislative will is to enact whatever law is necessary — or in this case, to use the laws already on the books — to execute a man who raped and murdered an 11 month old baby. The Oklahoma legislature would pass any law necessary to do this, and they would be willing to be suspend rules or be called into special session to get it done. That is the degree of the legislative will in both political parties on this issue.

I repeat what I wrote earlier about the attorneys who are playing these games: Be careful what you wish for. Because, unless you are really lucky, you will surely get it.

Oklahoma Stops Botched Execution. Inmate Dies Anyway.

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Oklahoma seems to be having trouble executing people.

First, attorneys for death row inmates got a judge to agree that their clients could not be executed because of an Oklahoma law that grants anonymity to the companies that supply the toxic brew of killer drugs used to kill the prisoners.

Once the state got past that roadblock, it had to call off an execution in progress because the needle in the inmate’s arm was evidently putting the killer drugs into the surrounding tissue instead of the bloodstream.

According to the doctor who was in attendance at the execution, the vein in convicted murderer Clayton Lockett’s arm which was being used to administer the drug “blew.” The first indication that the “drugs were not having an effect” was when the inmate didn’t die. The doctor checked and found that they were going into the surrounding tissues in Lockett’s arm instead of the vein. At that point, officials halted the execution.

Lockett died 43 minutes later of what has been termed “an apparent heart attack.” I’m no doctor, and I’m just guessing, but my guess is that since the drugs went into muscle and fatty tissue instead of the bloodstream, it took those drugs longer to kill Mr Lockett, but that he ultimately died of their effects.

The first drug was supposed to make Mr Lockett unconscious almost immediately. According to witnesses, he was still awake seven minutes after the drugs were administered. Sixteen minutes into the execution, when he should have been long dead, he moved his head and tried to talk. Then, according to his attorney, he began to convulse.

I don’t favor the death penalty. However, I don’t question that Mr Lockett was a cold-blooded murderer. He should have been locked up and forgotten; no parole, no question of parole, no interviews or sad stories about his wasted life.

I think it’s important to remember a gutsy teen-ager named Stephanie Neiman. Mr Lockett was given the death penalty for murdering Miss Neiman.

Mr Lockett and three accomplices kidnapped a 9-month old baby, the baby’s father, and teenager Stephanie Neiman in a home invasion. Miss Neiman was bound and gagged with duct tape. Mr Lockett forced her to watch while his accomplice dug her grave. The first time he tried to shoot her, the gun jammed, so he got a shotgun to use for the execution-style murder.

Witnesses said they heard Miss Neiman, begging for her life. Then, they heard a single shot. After that, they heard Lockett and his accomplices “laughing about how tough Stephanie was.” Then Mr Lockett shot her again.

Mr Lockett then ordered his accomplice to bury Miss Neiman, even though she was still alive.

I’m not going to comment on this beyond sharing the facts. I think the facts speak for themselves.

From CNN:

(CNN) – A vein on an Oklahoma inmate “exploded” in the middle of his execution Tuesday, prompting authorities to abruptly halt the process and call off another execution later in the day as they try to figure out what went wrong.

The inmate, Clayton Lockett, died 43 minutes after the first injection was administered — according to reporter Courtney Francisco ofCNN affiliate KFOR who witnessed the ordeal — of an apparent heart attack, Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton said.

That first drug, midazolam, is supposed to render a person unconscious. Seven minutes later, Lockett was still conscious. About 16 minutes in, after his mouth and then his head moved, he seemingly tried to get up and tried to talk, saying “man” aloud, according to the KFOR account.

Other reporters — including Cary Aspinwall of the Tulsa Worldnewspaper — similarly claimed that Lockett was “still alive,” having lifted his head while prison officials lowered the blinds at that time so that onlookers couldn’t see what was going on.


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