An Oklahoma inmate died of a heart attack 40 minutes after his execution was botched last night. Another execution was stayed as a result and Oklahoma officials will be forced to do some explaining for why they fought so hard in court to go forward with these executions despite questions about the sources of drugs to be used.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is right. It is time for a long, hard conversation on the death penalty in Arkansas. Life without parole sentences are preferable. They are cheaper; punishing and reversible. A new study says 4 percent of people executed are innocent. One innocent tkilled by the state is too many. Lethal injections — once seen as the “humane” alternative to more gruesome forms of execution — are clearly not going to be an answer because of unavailability of legitimate supplies.
The Oklahoman’s description of last night’s execution should give most people pause (though I know some of the blood-thirsty will cheer the unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment this inmate suffered):
Lockett grimaced and tensed his body several times over a three minute period before the execution was shielded from the press. After being declared unconscious ten minutes into the process, Lockett spoke at three separate moments. The first two were inaudible, however the third time he spoke, Lockett said the word “man.”
USA TODAY said the paper reported that officials closed the curtains 16 minutes into the execution and ended it 20 minutes later.
“It was extremely difficult to watch,” Lockett’s attorney, David Autry, said afterward.
Arkansas’s last execution was in 2005. Court cases over the method of execution have halted the process for the foreseeable future. Arkansas’s Death Row house 32 inmates.