The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

May 1, 2014

Integrity of execution process needs thorough, independent review


Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Some have argued that Clayton Lockett’s execution wasn’t bungled because the inmate ultimately died.

True, the convicted murderer and rapist was put to death eventually, but the three-drug execution didn’t go as planned. Without question, the integrity of the process needs to be thoroughly and independently reviewed.

Robert Patton, the director of the Department of Corrections, stopped the procedure after the initial sedative drug was administered, describing vein failure.

“There was some concern at that time that the drugs were not having that (desired) effect, and the doctor observed the line at that time and determined the line had blown,” Patton told The Associated Press.

Attempting to thwart federal interference, Gov. Mary Fallin has rightly called for a full review of our state’s execution procedures. She also ordered a stay of execution for the other inmate scheduled to die hours after Lockett.

Not surprisingly, death penalty opponents have called for a moratorium on capital punishment.

The White House said the botched execution fell short of humane standards.

We’re not questioning the execution of Lockett according to the law.

The Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, which prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment,” prevents torture in a world that has burned at the stake, quartered and even crucified in the past.

However, Chief Justice John Roberts has said the “Constitution does not demand the avoidance of all risk of pain in carrying out executions.”

Complicating the situation, states are having difficulty finding drugs because manufacturers have stopped selling the pharmaceuticals for execution purposes.

We’re a civilized nation that believes in the Constitution. We believe in administering the appropriate punishment after the justice system determines the proper sentencing.

Executions should be humane. That’s what distinguishes measured retribution from Old Testament-style vengeance.

When we blindly turn to revenge tactics, we resort to the level of bloodthirsty criminals. As a nation based on laws, we hope we’re better than that.