On Tuesday evening, the State of Oklahoma was scheduled to execute two convicted murderers; however, the first, that of Clayton Lockett, was botched as the three-drug “cocktail” did not work properly. After the State realized that fact, the Director of Corrections tried to call it off. In the end, Mr. Lockett died after 43 minutes of a Massive Heart Attack. Warner’s execution has been stayed for 14 days.
Stephanie Nieman, age 19, walked in on Lockett and his accomplice, Charles Warner, during the commission of a crime in 1999. They shot her twice and, then, buried her alive. Lockett and Warner were both sentenced to Death, and spent the last 15 years on Death Row.
The European pharmaceutical companies that previously produced the drugs, which were used in Executions pretty much throughout the U. S., had stopped making them. The State of Oklahoma devised several alternatives; however, there were two problems: the State would not reveal what drugs the cocktail was composed of, and the cocktail was considered “experimental” since the drug combination had never been used before.
On April 21, the State Supreme Court stayed the Executions of Lockett and Warner, until the Court could review whether the drug cocktail would constitute “Cruel and Unusual Punishment”. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallon ®, however, declared that the State’s Executive Branch would not honor the Stay. Perhaps that misstep might have turned the heat up even more on the Governor.
The real question is, should America be one of the few so-called Civilized Countries that executes criminals? Several points that I would suggest are: maybe Capital Punishment is not really a deterrent; perhaps Life in Prison, without a chance of Parole, might be more punitive; the expense of going through the long Legal Process to Execute someone is generally more expensive than a Life-Term; and information that could be revealed later, such as DNA, might show that the guilt could be in doubt.
What is the impact of the eventual Execution on the Family of the Victim? With all of the Murders that take place in this Country–much too frequently–the feelings of Family members may differ substantially. But, for many, the initial Uncertainly as to what happened and by who, the Trial, Appeals Process and, then, the actual Execution just seem to prevent their Closure. For some, they would just like to put the horror of it all behind them.
Lastly, what does putting Human Beings to Death say about our System of Laws? Perhaps John Adams first raised the issue when, before he was President, he agreed to defend the British Soldiers who went on Trial after the Boston Massacre. Even though our Constitution had not been finalized as yet, Adams seemed to believe that “Equal ProtectIon” applied to everyone–even British Soldiers. The point is who are we, as a Nation, that we can put someone to Death?