By Robert Nave, State/Regional Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator
From time to time, we are reminded about the horror that the United States continues to endorse with the archaic practice of the death penalty.
Last night we were reminded of that yet again, as Oklahoma attempted a “double execution” with a new “drug cocktail.” The procedure went horribly wrong and Clayton Lockett ultimately died of a massive heart attack after the procedure was stopped mid-stream.
This practice in barbarity went on for 43 minutes with curtains drawn, disallowing spectators from seeing the procedure once it started to go wrong.
[pullquote text=”Clayton Lockett ultimately died of a massive heart attack after the procedure was stopped mid-stream.This practice in barbarity went on for 43 minutes with curtains drawn.”]A few things strike me as glaring when thinking about what just happened. Oklahoma has to try a new drug combination since the one previously used cannot be used as the companies who produce those drugs, companies in Europe, will no longer sell them to the United States as they stand firmly against the death penalty and the use of their drugs in this practice.
But, as that may be a sign of how wrong the death penalty is in the eyes of the world and how out of step the United States continues to be, there are even more things to contemplate. Personally, I was struck by a broadcast on Public Radio I heard this morning. The newscaster was going to be interviewing a witness to last night’s botched execution.
Prior to her playing of that interview, the reporter warned listeners that “what (they) were about to hear could be very disturbing.” I thought to myself that if a mere description of what happened may be disturbing, that the actual event is so much more than disturbing – and I wondered how we can continue to use capital punishment when there is such distaste and disgust by the mere discussion of the reality of what it is?
I believe that what happened last night in Oklahoma should become the topic of a national conversation; a conversation that includes what we are saying as a nation who prides ourselves as a nation of justice, yet, uses capital punishment, which as demonstrated, is a clear violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.
The death penalty is cruel and unusual, it does nothing to deter crime, and it is a burden that we impose upon ourselves as we partake in something that the bulk of the world now rejects. I think it is time for our voices to be heard and put an end to capital punishment.