Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A botched execution - and a simple solution

I'm sure most of my readers have heard by now of the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma yesterday, so I won't go into the details all over again.  Suffice it to say that the usual suspects are in an uproar about it.

I'm opposed to the death penalty not because I regard it as wrong, but because there's so much evidence to suggest that innocent people have been executed for crimes they haven't committed.  In the absence of a foolproof method to convict and sentence only the genuinely guilty, I'd prefer to take the death penalty off the table altogether.  You can exonerate an innocent man in prison.  It's too late to exonerate a corpse.

In this particular case I think there was more than enough evidence to convict Mr. Lockett of his crimes and justify the sentence carried out yesterday.  I agree that things went very wrong in the process of executing him, and there should be follow-up to ensure that those responsible understand what happened and can make sure it doesn't happen again.  However, I don't have much time for those complaining that Mr. Lockett 'suffered unnecessarily' during the process.  In the first place, as far as we know, he was unconscious.  The physical reactions he exhibited did not in and of themselves signify that he was conscious or feeling any pain.  In the second place, he buried a young woman alive, leaving her to suffocate beneath the earth of her grave.  As far as I'm concerned, that greatly reduces my dismay over his somewhat protracted death.

If Oklahoma - or any other state - wants to simplify the administration of the death penalty and ensure that it's painless, a single shot to the base of the skull from a suitable handgun will do the job at a cost per round of a few cents.  If no volunteers can be found to pull the trigger, one could build the gun into a seat or framework and have it fired automatically by a timer or other means.  That would be a lot simpler and more reliable than the complex rigmarole currently employed - and a lot cheaper, too.



Anonymous said...

Could you please post three examples of people who were executed in the past ten years who were innocent of the crimes they were convicted for?

On the other hand I can post many examples of murderers who although convicted still enjoy life despite the nature of their crimes.

Coconut said...

If they were allowed to use the drugs that actually work, this sort of thing wouldn't happen.

Instead, the euro companies they used to get them from aren't selling them any more, IIRC, so they have to improvise.

Paul, Dammit! said...

I posted elsewhere that I'm still not sure how exactly the process failed. Dude's dead. Looks like it worked out fine. All else is window dressing. Having seen accidental and natural death, it's never nice, even when it's as easy as possible.

I'm with you, though, on being generally opposed to the death penalty. You don't hear much about rich folks getting it, unless there's political implications in them not getting it.

I'm not a turn the other cheek guy, either. I just don't trust 12 people to make that decision. Statistically, six of them are of less-than-average intelligence.

ASM826 said...

How hard can this be? Across the country, veterinarians do thousands of these every day. They must have ready access to effective drugs.

Peter said...

@Anonymous at 11:16 PM: I've already discussed the matter at some length in previous articles, most recently at:

Follow the links there for more information.

Bob said...

You can save yourself the cost of a bullet and simply use the Garrote, an effective execution device that has been proven over the course of hundreds of years.

STxRynn said...

The next death row inmate in OK is a man that raped and murdered an 11 month old infant. I sure hope they don't stop just because of this glitch.

The Washington Post reported: “during the ultimately fatal attack she was sexually molested. She had a six-inch skull fracture, a broken jaw, three broken ribs, bruised lungs and a lacerated liver and spleen.”

I had an outpatient surgery a few years ago. I found out that the "date rape drug" they give to make you relax doesn't work on me very well. Makes sense that some folks have drug resistance that others don't. Your idea for execution is excellent.

Anonymous said...

+1 Paul Dammit!

You ordered on dead prisoner, you got one prisoner.

You wanted drugs to kill him, the drugs killed him.

I'm sorry his family is upset. Maybe the family of his victim can give them tips on how to deal with the grief and loss.


Anonymous said...

What's wrong with heroin ? It's fast and relatively cheap

JohninMd.(too late?!??) said...

Execution sounds like an excellent way to use all the heroin seized every year - hell, some of these skells might not fight it so much, if they get the ultimate high....

SJ said...

@Anonymous, @JohninMd,

I was about to suggest morphine. How hard is it compute the lethal dose?