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December 28, 2014

Have messy executions in 2014 moved the death penalty debate in any way?

The question in the title of this post is prompted by this new AP article headlined "Death penalty backers stand firm despite botched executions." Here are excerpts:

Oklahoma’s last execution went so badly that the state tried to cancel it before the end came. With the inmate writhing while the lethal drugs seeped into his body, his executioners drew the viewing gallery curtains, concealing what the warden later described as "a bloody mess."

The botched execution of Clayton Lockett in April and other troubling ones this year in Ohio and Arizona gave capital punishment opponents a flicker of hope that areas of the country most enthusiastically supportive of the death penalty might have a change of heart. They did not.

Although Governor Mary Fallin suspended executions so that Lockett’s death and Oklahoma’s methods could be reviewed, the state held a ceremony for its overhauled death chamber only months later and is scheduled to resume executions in mid-January.

And rather than causing states to question whether capital punishment is just or worth the risk of subjecting someone to a potentially agonizing death, the prolonged executions and problems states have had securing lethal injection drugs have led them to explore new, old, and more efficient ways of killing, including gas.

"I think we had a little flash of hope that it would help our cause, but all it did was generate a lot of conversation about it," said Lydia Polley, a member of the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. "It just led to people thinking of better ways to kill them."...

Lockett’s execution did little to dampen support for the death penalty in Oklahoma, which has executed more inmates than any other state except Texas since the 1976 reinstatement of the death penalty. In October, officials gave media tours of the renovated execution unit at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, which got a $104,000 overhaul after Lockett’s death and now stands in sharp contrast to the rest of the shabby, 106-year-old facility.

Not content with just the upgrades to the prison and lethal injection equipment, Oklahoma’s Republican-led House conducted a study on the use of nitrogen gas for executions and is expected to consider legislation early next year that would make Oklahoma the first state to adopt hypoxia by gas — the forced deprivation of oxygen — as a legal execution method.

Other conservative states are exploring alternatives to lethal injection because of the problems securing the drugs.... Tennessee passed a law to reinstate the electric chair if it cannot get lethal injection drugs and Utah is considering bringing back the firing squad....

Ralph Shortey, a Republican state senator from Oklahoma City who is pushing for Oklahoma to adopt alternative execution methods to lethal injection, estimates that 90 percent of his constituents strongly support the death penalty, despite what happened to Lockett. "The average Oklahoman is saying he got exactly what he deserves," Shortey said. "A lot of people think they should suffer even more than they do. They think the lethal injection is too easy for them."

December 28, 2014 at 12:59 PM | Permalink


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Hard to tell -- dying is messy, continues to be. Guess being reminded of it does something.

Posted by: Joe | Dec 28, 2014 3:50:29 PM

Again, and again, not a word about how the victim died from this misleading laying lawyer propaganda put out by horrible left wing rent seekers. This is scandalous, a disgrace.

First, the execution was not botched. The guy was unconscious the entire time, and then he died well, not as his victim did. They probably put the drug into a tissue rather than into a vein. Why? Because left wing lawyer and left wing organized medicine have bullied trained people into not participating or not even providing training to prison guard.

An IV is easy to start after practicing on 10 people. Then withdraw blood to prove you are in a vein, and push the drug in. So the lawyer traitor hampers the execution, then complains when it did not go well. Why not send guards to IV school, and do so anonymously? It is certain some guards are volunteer EMT's, and should be kept confidential to avoid intimidation by the pro-criminal left wing thugs. Anyone intimidating a prison guard should, of course, get charged and put in prison. It looks like a certification could be accomplished in a couple of weeks of training. The training will also enhance the effectiveness of the volunteer also serving as an EMT.

"Certificate of Completion

Participants in IV training programs participate in 45-48 hours of training, during which participants attend lectures and labs and complete a clinical rotation. Students learn venipuncture terminology, infection control, basic pharmacology, insertion and removal, infusion flow rate calculation and IV complications management. A written exam is required to successfully complete the program."

The blood level took 45 minutes to peak to shut off the breathing center, after it had to come out of tissue, not out of blood.

Now the horrible family that spawned him, is planning litigation. The pro-murderer, morally appalling lawyer that kept him alive for years, all should be targeted by direct action groups of victims' families. Apply the lash. To deter the subhuman horrible people. I would apply the lash to the lawyer dumbass, traitors that loosed him on an innocent 19 year old girl. She died rough, buried alive, after being blasted twice with a shotguns.

"Lockett decided to bury her alive.[5] Lockett ordered an accomplice to bury her while she was still breathing. She died from two wounds from a shotgun fired by Lockett.[5] In 2000, he was convicted of murder, rape, forcible sodomy, kidnapping, assault and battery and sentenced to death. Previously Lockett was sentenced to four years in prison for a conviction in 1996 in Grady County for conspiracy to commit a felony.[1]

At his 1999 murder trial both DNA from the dead victim, fingerprints from the duct tape used to bind the victim, and eye witness testimony led to his murder conviction.[1]

There is nothing to say to the filthy, lawyer traitors that support him. They are not even human. Only the lash remains for them. To deter.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 28, 2014 8:03:57 PM

""A lot of people think they should suffer even more than they do. They think the lethal injection is too easy for them."

These folks could consider (1) drawing and quartering; (2) disemboweling; or
(3) crucifixion; (4) waterboarding for 24 hours; then garroting.

Posted by: anon | Dec 28, 2014 9:38:33 PM

Anon. I know you are trying to be an a-hole, and are doing an excellent job of it. However something you said does make sense.

Instead of wasting time on death row, water board the condemned 12 hours a day to solve the likely hundreds if not thousands of crimes committed by him and his cohorts.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 28, 2014 10:01:32 PM

RE: Supremacy Claus | Dec 28, 2014 8:03:57 PM

As I understand the adversarial system , criminal defense counsel is ethically bound to pursue all reasonable grounds on behalf of the client •

The real tragedy is that the defendant was not neutralized BEFORE harming another ‼

Posted by: Docile Jim Brady @Bend, OR 97702-3212 | Dec 29, 2014 7:49:22 AM

I don't see why abolitionists expected the underlying issue to meaningfully change. You can be for capital punishment and yet against inhumane methods of carrying it out. My pro-DP stance hasn't changed despite that Iran uses suspension hanging to kill the condemned.

I'm very interested to see whether a nitrogen gas chamber is ultimately adopted. Several posters on here (including me) have advocated for it, and it won't suffer from a lot of the supply problems that have plagued lethal injection.

Posted by: Res ipsa | Dec 29, 2014 9:02:23 AM

DJB: The adversarial system is derived from the disputation methodology of Scholasticism, to get to an answer to a vexing problem. Abelard, of Abelard and Helouise, and St. Thomas Aquinas were both masters of it. Both were monks. So it is a church based methodology in violation of the Establishment Clause, along with all other church based legal practices (church architecture of court, the robe, the gavel, the Latin, etc.). In 1275 AD, state of the art. In 2014, totally idiotic, unless you understand its true aim, to generate high hourly billings for weeks on end in a murder trial. It is worthless and expensive. That means if more than 5% of defendants demand a trial, the system stops working, runs out of money and grinds to a halt with the waiting times now violating the Speedy Trial Clause. Next, they have silenced and crippled the most intelligent, and experienced person in the tribunal, the judge. If a judge drives by in his car, the scene of the crime, he gets impeached, not just a mistrial or disqualification, fired (real world case).

Second, the defense lawyer is also an officer of the court with duties to not file frivolous claims, to not fool the court, and to not lie. All these claims violate that duty.

Lastly, in 2014, the adversarial system is not a good method of investigation to resolve the question of guilt. The best is an inquisitorial judge who is trained as a judge, to take charge of the investigation, and to run the court, not be a passive spectator to the theater of fiction presented by inexperienced lawyers often just out of law school. He should wear a business suit, sit around a conference table, not on an altar, and do whatever he pleases to find an answer. His training should be as a judge, not as a lawyer. I know the argument of my lawyer friends is that he will be biased in favor of the police, to whom he can relate better than to the defendant. He should be supervised, and if a bias or a mistake can be found, he should be held liable and be insured for professional malpractice.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 29, 2014 9:50:13 AM

"You can be for capital punishment and yet against inhumane methods of carrying it out."

Yes, like torture and other things, people continue to be against the "wrong types" of the death penalty, repeated examples not enough to convince them that the system in the real world will always provide them and it's not just a case of "we need better safeguards!"

Or, not enough -- life is imperfect etc. -- to change their minds.

The option of nitrogen gas is offered. Since I don't see the death penalty as ending any time soon, and the mindset behind caring about such things is overall positive, I'm open to that idea as the least of imperfect options. But, I'm not under the impression some problem won't arise there too. Each and every method had problems. This will in practice too. We don't live in nirvana. Anyway, "gas" has such negative connotations that along with the problems of introducing new methods, it seems large theoretical.

Posted by: Joe | Dec 29, 2014 10:34:11 AM

Joe. Address transportation. Kills 30,000 without due process. That includes walking that kills 1000 a year. End all transportation until the error rate is fixed. Much worse, and more dangerous than the death penalty. Once you have addressed transportation's problems, address the problems of all other human activities, farming, medicine, etc.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 29, 2014 12:34:17 PM

Just saw this on AP:


4:09 P.M. Saudi Arabia beheads 83 people in 2014, the most in years

Saudi Arabia's official news agency says authorities have beheaded a Pakistani man convicted of smuggling "large quantities" of heroin, bringing the number of publicly announced executions to its highest level in at least five years.

An Associated Press tally of announcements from the official Saudi Press Agency shows 83 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia in 2014, including Wednesday's announced execution.

Amnesty International says Saudi Arabia has one of the highest execution rates in the world. The group lists 79 executions in Saudi Arabia in 2013 and 2012, and 82 in 2011 and 2010. The London-based rights group says at least 69 people were executed in 2009. Amnesty says the countries carrying out the most executions last year were China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. "(AP)

Nice company to be in, yes?

Posted by: anon | Dec 31, 2014 9:57:51 AM

Saudi Arabia had 265 murders. If it had the number per million of the United States, it would be over 2000. They saved 1700 murder victims by killing 83 criminals. Anon must disclose the fraction of his income from government to explain his pro-criminal stance.

And Prof. Berman, Saudi Arabia has high lead levels, and 24% of surveyed children had levels of concern to the CDC. Watshisface will not address international comparisons of high lead level countries with low crime rates.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 4, 2015 9:02:10 AM

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