Read the following article from the New York Times and post an opinion about the death penalty. Do you think that governments should use this extreme form of punishment? Why or why not? What is your argument?
State-Sponsored Horror in Oklahoma
At 6:36 p.m. on Tuesday in McAlester, Okla., Clayton Lockett started kicking his leg, then twitching, then writhing and moaning in agony, and everyone watching knew something had gone terribly wrong. Mr. Lockett, a convicted murderer, was strapped to a gurney in the death chamber of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, about to be executed by lethal injection, but the untested combination of a sedative and a paralyzing agent had failed.
According to an eyewitness account by a reporter for The Tulsa World, Mr. Lockett tried to raise himself up, mumbled the word “man,” and was in obvious pain. Officials hastily closed the blinds on the chamber and told reporters that the execution had been stopped because of a “vein failure.” But at 7:06, the inmate was pronounced dead of a heart attack.
This horrific scene — the very definition of cruel and unusual punishment — should never have happened. The Oklahoma Supreme Court tried to stop it last week, concerned that the state refused to reveal the origin of the deadly cocktail. But several lawmakers threatened to impeach the justices, and Gov. Mary Fallin blindly ignored the warning signs and ordered the execution to proceed. (She said it was outside the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, which normally deals with civil matters.)
On Wednesday afternoon, a few hours after her employees tortured a man to death, Ms. Fallin suddenly showed an interest in execution procedures.She ordered an independent review of the injection protocol, halting further state killings until the investigation is complete.
She should have gone much further and followed other governors and legislatures in banning executions, recognizing that the American administration of death does not function. Mr. Lockett’s ordeal, along with the botched deaths of other inmates around the country, showed there is no reliable and humane method of execution. As Gov. John Kitzhaber of Oregon said in 2011: “I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer; and I will not allow further executions while I am governor.”
Seven states have put the death penalty on hold over the last five years because of issues of fairness or methods; another 11 states are debating the issue. Even in states where the death penalty is applied, the number of executions has fallen sharply since 2009. Republicans in Oklahoma seemed so eager to buck this tide that they ignored what happened during a January execution, when an inmate named Michael Lee Wilson said “I feel my whole body burning” just before the drugs killed him.
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