execution lethal injection

Botched Oklahoma Execution Heightens Need for Transparency in Lethal Injection Process

Last night, the State of Oklahoma horribly botched the execution of Clayton Lockett after employing an experimental new drug protocol that had never been used in that dosage on a human being.  Attorneys for Mr. Lockett and for Charles Warner, who also was scheduled to be executed last night, had waged numerous challenges to the extreme secrecy surrounding the lethal injection process.  Like officials in Texas, Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections refused to disclose the source of its drugs.

In a statement released by The Constitution Project, Mark White, former Texas governor and co-chair of The Constitution Project’s Death Penalty Committee, offered the following comments:

Last night, we witnessed the latest — and what, by all indications, appears to be the worst –chapter thus far in the practice of human experimentation in the execution of prisoners by lethal injection. In the face of growing drug shortages due to manufacturers’ refusal to permit use of their products to kill people, some state governments have started down a haphazard and dangerous path. They have begun to hastily attempt to execute prisoners with drugs never before used for that purpose, often with compounds obtained in secret from undisclosed sources, hoping through trial and error to hit on a method that might work. The botched execution of Clayton Lockett is the horrific, if sadly predictable, result. Americans may want tough justice, but most do not want to be cruel or inhumane in executing even the most heinous of criminals, and this was exactly that.

TCADP stands with our colleagues in Oklahoma and around the country in calling for an independent and thorough investigation into what went wrong with this execution.

Here’s a statement from Clayton Lockett’s attorney Dean Sanderford, Assistant Federal Defender with the Office of the Federal Public Defender, District of Colorado and Wyoming, in response to Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin’s press statements today regarding the botched execution of Mr. Lockett:

Today Governor Fallin called for an ‘independent review’ of the botched execution of my client, Clayton Lockett, but she did not assign this duty to a neutral, third party with independent interests. Instead, she has charged the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety with the job. The DPS is a state agency, and its Commissioner reports to the Governor. As such, the review proposed by Governor Fallin would not be conducted by a neutral, independent entity. In order to understand exactly what went wrong in last night’s horrific execution, and restore any confidence in the execution process, the death of Clayton Lockett must be investigated by a truly independent organization, not a state employee or agency.

-Dean Sanderford, Attorney for Clayton Lockett, April 30, 2014

The White House has also weighed in on the situation, stating that the execution of Mr. Lockett “fell short of the humane standards required when the death penalty is carried out.”  Read more from Politico.