Clayton Lockett is dead.
To some, it’s no big deal. He was a murderer who was sentenced to die for a hideous crime. He didn’t depart this world quite the way the state of Oklahoma desired. He suffered terribly in a botched execution.
Still no big deal? Well, it is.
Oklahoma executioners used a drug cocktail for the first time. They thought they’d administered the lethal injection, only to have the condemned man lurch on the gurney, gasp, choke, thrash about before succumbing.
Hey, he was a killer who deserved to die, right? Some have even ventured that he should have suffered the same level of agony he delivered to his victim.
Well, the government is supposed to be above that kind of barbarism. States that execute inmates for their capital crimes should do so humanely. That’s what civilized governments prescribe for this kind of punishment, isn’t it?
It appears that the individual who inserted the needle into Lockett’s arm missed the vein. The drugs began to flow, but not into the man’s bloodstream. Thus, the suffering occurred and it has caused state officials to look deeply into the methods they use to carry out these punishments.
None of this should be grist for jokes, or snide comments about whether a condemned criminal has gotten “what he deserved.” If states are going to execute inmates for these capital crimes, it is imperative they develop fool-proof methods that do not produce the kind of ghastly drama that played out this week in Oklahoma.