SHOCKING: Oklahoma Execution Goes Horribly Wrong

The state of Oklahoma attempted a “double execution” with a new “drug cocktail.” The procedure went horribly wrong and Clayton Lockett ultimately died of a massive heart attack (Photo Credit: Mike Simons/Getty Images).

The state of Oklahoma attempted a “double execution” with a new “drug cocktail.” The procedure went horribly wrong and Clayton Lockett ultimately died of a massive heart attack (Photo Credit: Mike Simons/Getty Images).

By Robert Nave, State/Regional Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator 

From time to time, we are reminded about the horror that the United States continues to endorse with the archaic practice of the death penalty.

Last night we were reminded of that yet again, as Oklahoma attempted a “double execution” with a new “drug cocktail.” The procedure went horribly wrong and Clayton Lockett ultimately died of a massive heart attack after the procedure was stopped mid-stream.

This practice in barbarity went on for 43 minutes with curtains drawn, disallowing spectators from seeing the procedure once it started to go wrong.

Clayton Lockett ultimately died of a massive heart attack after the procedure was stopped mid-stream.This practice in barbarity went on for 43 minutes with curtains drawn.

A few things strike me as glaring when thinking about what just happened. Oklahoma has to try a new drug combination since the one previously used cannot be used as the companies who produce those drugs, companies in Europe, will no longer sell them to the United States as they stand firmly against the death penalty and the use of their drugs in this practice.

But, as that may be a sign of how wrong the death penalty is in the eyes of the world and how out of step the United States continues to be, there are even more things to contemplate. Personally, I was struck by a broadcast on Public Radio I heard this morning. The newscaster was going to be interviewing a witness to last night’s botched execution.

Prior to her playing of that interview, the reporter warned listeners that “what (they) were about to hear could be very disturbing.” I thought to myself that if a mere description of what happened may be disturbing, that the actual event is so much more than disturbing – and I wondered how we can continue to use capital punishment when there is such distaste and disgust by the mere discussion of the reality of what it is?

I believe that what happened last night in Oklahoma should become the topic of a national conversation; a conversation that includes what we are saying as a nation who prides ourselves as a nation of justice, yet, uses capital punishment, which as demonstrated, is a clear violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

The death penalty is cruel and unusual, it does nothing to deter crime, and it is a burden that we impose upon ourselves as we partake in something that the bulk of the world now rejects. I think it is time for our voices to be heard and put an end to capital punishment.

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50 thoughts on “SHOCKING: Oklahoma Execution Goes Horribly Wrong

  1. you say that it is cruel and inhumane to execute this man well tell me madam or sir how cruel and inhumane was it when he shot a nineteen year old girl and buried her alive. You people make me sick. What if that was your daughter he did that to would you feel the same? These people choose to do what they do and feel they should not suffer any consequence for it how ridiculous is that? They get treated better in prison than some people trying to make a living raising a family all at tax payers expenses. I say just line them up shoot them all and save the tax payers money

    • Forgiviness is the greatest slap in the face my dear. Cool your jets, take a chill pill and walk away if you don't agree. Also, lots of love to you and your obviously jaded and closed off view of the world. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind :)

    • Absolutely agree. If it was done more frequently than perhaps it would deter more crime. And yes I have heard of how much it costs to execute someone. I say a bullet isn't that expensive.

      • It' is not the lethal injection method that is so expensive as you presume. It is the long legal process, the appeals that sometimes last for decades, and the fact that housing an individual on death row is substantially more expensive than housing someone in a maximum security prison. The answer is not as simple as you think.

      • The death penalty does not save tax payer money. And there is no evidence that it deters crime. If we use our brains and not our hearts, we can actually make a logical decision here and avoid ideological debate.

    • Well said. It's ok to kill and torture somebody and feel sorry for the murderer. Hope it never happens to any of their siblings and see how it feels.

      • My uncle was murdered and his killer executed by the state of Texas. I felt it was a barbaric act. The State sets the example of how to solve a problem. Killing is their answer, killing is ok. Someone needs to set the example of how to treat people.

    • I think in this topic area, it is incredibly easy for emotions to get out of hand. Rhetoric only exacerbates the feeling of polarization about this and other issues. I cannot speak for the author of this article, but I know for myself that if I lost a loved one in such a manner, or even in a lesser manner, I would be infuriated and demand "justice" or retribution, take your pick. Do know that this sentiment is not universal. I have watched plenty of clips in which the murderer and the victim's family became incredibly close after the event. When it comes to the death penalty I think the important point is that individual's have a commitment to each other, that's why we band together in community. When someone violates this, the commitment has been threatened. Similarly when the government can "legally" end the life of an individual, it threatens the same commitment. It can be explained by the adage, treat others as you want to be treated. That may seem simplistic to the point of native, but it is the basis for all rights. We have them because you do not know when you will need them.
      In light of this I believe that retribution has no place in crime and punishment. Our society is not on the verge of chaos, and I would like to think we are socially evolving to a point of greater decency. This is an established legal precedence. As society socially improves, something that at one point was acceptable not longer is. We are at that point today.

    • A murder is a terrible thing, yes, but you do not give the murdered its life back with another murder. On the contrary, you generate hate, racial tension in most cases, and end up being as bad as the murderer. Prisons are meant to correct unlawful behaviour, what correction is there to be made to a corpse? If you want to save tax payer's money retreat all the troops the US has in foreign land and stop making drills that consume abysmal amounts of oil. I'm pretty sure there are a lot of other stuff you can cut off as well to give a man who did wrong two meals a day and who's also already paying the price by having his freedom confiscated.

      • Please do not make out as if he accidentally killed someone, bu he really is a nice man and capable of 'correction' – he willfully killed a man and young child and participated in the repeated brutal rape and then murder of a young woman as well, during the course of a home robbery. He killed them because he thought they'd tell the police and he'd go to prison. I have no sympathy for him or his manner of death. I DO feel sympathy for anyone that loved him and tried to help him, and for those lives he stole and their family. I DO feel compassion for the child he once was, and anger towards for whatever happened to make him turn into an evil man.
        I would love my rabid dog who just attacked someone as I had it euthanized to protect public health and safety, because even chained in a yard he would be a danger. You may think this is a harsh line of thinking, but farm life teaches one to be harsh.

    • So you think you save taxes by executing convicted criminals? Do you know how long and expensive the whole procedure is?

      Do you truly believe that the court always finds the right criminal to punished? I'm not even going to mention how murdering a person, despite of the reasons, definetely not human at all.

    • The whole reform system is outdated. The whole notion that its okay to kill someone because we have the law as a shield, when actually its more a blind spot. Killing in the name of…. Who ?? The law. Religion. Revenge. Or we just subside to the fact of " that's just how things are" attitude. It is wrong to kill.. Whether you are a criminal or law abiding. America just seems a little old world sometimes, even tho they have state of the art warheads they are certainly not state of the art values when you fall below a certain income. Its a funny mixed up place is America. Beautiful when things are going good. Yet a terrible place when things go wrong, for a person.

    • Interesting that your posting this on Amnesty's website? Have you wandered on here accidentally ?

    • Also think about it this way, yes the poor victim of this man's horrendous crime has a mother and father, brothers or sisters but maybe so does he.

    • It isn't a competition. How do you stand up and tell them murder is wrong when you in fact are going to murder them. Hypocrisy doesn't help the cause.

  2. I can not understand why a civilised nation thinks that it's ok to execute people .Whatever the persons crime was, as human beings we are on a very slippery slope when we imagine this barbaric penalty does anything positive,useful or acts as a deterrent. I am sure the American people have little idea how other countries view these actions. It's horrifying. I have difficulty working out how people with a religious faith are able to reconcile the governments actions.God's commandments say you shall not kill. It's ok for the government to do it? I am an aetheist. I am shocked and saddened that this policy continues in a country that the UK have a "special relationship" with.

  3. The one who tortures and kills is no different, no better than the one who is being punished for killing. Murder is murder regardless of whether or not one has legal permission. No one can give permission to kill another without becoming the same as the perpetrator who in the moment gave him/herself permission to kill. Also don't be fooled by the word justice usually it means vengeance. And the quote 'vengeance is mine sainthood The Lord ' suggests that killing and the like are not the domain of human minds listen to your thoughts for a whole day and then tell me if you would take advice from that person. I think as humans we are asked to be better than the murderers not the same.

  4. I'm 100% with this person!! These people don't value the lives they take I don't believe theirs should be either

  5. Mr./Mrs./Ms. James,

    Yes, it was cruel and inhumane when the nineteen year old woman was shot and buried alive. If this was my daughter, I would surely FEEL the offender(s) should pay the "ultimate price" for what was done, perhaps by my own hands. However, I would hope that my THOUGHT would be different and I would realize responding violently to a violent act only begets more violence.

    I don't think anyone believes a convicted murder should not receive a consequence. What some people suggest though is yes to justice, but no to the death penalty. To be continued …

  6. Assuming you have a child, I do wonder if the condemned was your daughter or son would you be willing to be the executioner? Would you be willing to shoot your child? Please do respond to this question. I am very curious how you will answer.

    Of course, we could also converse about innocent people being condemned and how the death penalty is more costly than alternative sentences. And what do you know about condemned prisoners being treated better than some people trying to make a living raising a family. Do you have personal insight on your statement.

    I am glad you trolled onto this Amnesty International blog. This discourse helps educate people.

  7. While you may debate the moral aspect of the death penalty, there can be no doubt it is no deterrent and costs millions of dollars to process an endless number of appeals in each and every case. Collectively, that's billions of dollars that would be much better spent on infrastructure or education.

  8. I think everyone posting here would agree that taking human life is wrong. When a human takes a life of another human, that is wrong and warrants punishment. But the answer is not for the state to turn around and deprive that person of their right to life. To me, that makes no ethical or moral sense; it simply reflects a base human desire for vengeance. Anyone who believes in progress, development and civilization must conclude that the death penalty is wrong. Over the past generation, more and more countries around the world have abolished the death penalty and I hope the United States will follow suit. It is no accident that the states which carry out the most executions – China, Iran and Iraq – are also the most oppressive countries on the planet, where basic freedoms are denied and torture is routine.

  9. If you continue to support this form of punishment you are no better than the people whom you want executed. Public execution is even worse. The things they do are horrible yes but that does not give the US government the right to do horrible things to them, namely execute them. Lock them up so they can suffer and die of boredom and never harm anyone again. None of us has the right to decide who should live and who should die. Shame on you who are pro-execution!

  10. The whole world is talking about this now- let's hope this will generate national debate and facilitate change in policy …..quickly.

  11. If you are all up for death penalty go and live in China or the Middle east. ah and one more thing, stop banning abortion too bunch of hypocrites.

  12. the only problem i see with capital punishment are the efforts to make it "human" those who behave like beasts should die as such, they should apply it more often and cheaper

  13. Devil's advocate for a moment: he viciously murdered people, including a young child, and participated in the repeated rape of the young woman hostage in the house he and a friend were caught robbing, then murdered her too. Why should we continue to house, clothe, feed and give medical care to these brutal criminals from our own tax money?
    Do we try to rehabilitate a rabid dog or a vicious dog that has bitten and attacked people? No, we have them euthanized because they are sick or pose a serious danger to public health and safety. We don't lock them up with other vicious dogs either. We do the HUMANE thing, and EUTHANIZE them.

    I have tried to follow the 'eye for an eye makes the whole blind' path, but in cases of vicious people like this, put them to death, our society is better off without them draining our resources.

  14. All of you who feel you have the right to call for anothers death, in reality it makes you no better than the person being executed except you have the sanction of a state behind the murder. I for one would not ever want someone murdered in the name of one of my children. My children were raised in love, I will not allow anyone to tarnish that with vengeance.

  15. "The death penalty is cruel and unusual, it does nothing to deter crime, and it is a burden that we impose upon ourselves as we partake in something that the bulk of the world now rejects. I think it is time for our voices to be heard and put an end to capital punishment."

    So what do you propose to be done to someone who has willfully taken the life of another and added a few extra elements of nastiness along the way…..raping, burying the victim alive, etc. So if not letting the laws on the books be carried out, than change them…..but change them to what? What will be a deterrent? What would be a satisfactory punishment for a despicable human being such as this one? or a Tim McVey? or any other criminal guilty of taking the life of another human being?

  16. I have to disagree on your constitutional argument. The 5th amendment is clear the government can take life with due process of law. Now if this drug shortage problem is causing executions to be cruel and unusual then we the federal government should work to lift the import limitations of the know non-cruel drugs from India.

  17. Agreed totally….the state and the officials carrying this out need to be held accountable for MURDER especially since he did not die from the execution, but rather a heart attack brought on by torture.

  18. What a terrible price the innocent imprisoned individuals should have to pay for unjust claims by a flawed judicial system.

  19. Well, if for no other reason….
    YOU CANNOT HAVE A DEATH PENALTY AS LONG AS THERE IS RACISM, CORRUPT POLICE, PROSECUTORS AND JUDGES, WITNESSES WHO GET IT WRONG, AND VARIOUS OTHER ERRORS AND DISHONESTY IN THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM. INNOCENT MEN DIE OLD IN PRISON AND ARE EXECUTED IN PRISON, ALL THE TIME!!! POTENTIAL INNOCENCE, ALONE, IS ENOUGH TO END THE DEATH PENALTY, RIGHT

  20. Exactly right Joseph. I have been against capital punishment all of my life. It accomplishes nothing. It is not & has never been a deterent. But for those who demand vengence, even after they've gotten justice, do you really feel better when someone is executed, or is it just a grim enjoyment of cruelty. And finally why does there have to be a special chemical cocktail? Don't we know that an over dose of morphine is lethal & is proven. Even sodium pentathal can cause death. Are these folks simply ignorant & stupid or do they just want to make sure the condemd dies horribly & in pain? Maybe a drug like morphine might be too kind of a way to cause ghe death.

  21. I really have mixed emotions about this. I support Amnesty international in so many of its efforts, but this is one area in which I disagree greatly. I do firmly believe that the Death Penalty does have a place in the Justice System, for a variety of reasons, and as such I do not agree with the campaign to end it completely. However, this is a situation which never should have occurred. Regardless of the crime this individual committed, it is the States' obligation to carry the sentence out in a clinical and proper manner. The investigation into this should be handled externally, not internally, and this combination should never have been used without being verified that it properly worked.

  22. This is why I advocate good old fashioned firing squad. 6 or 8 guys shoot a man he dies and best of all it’s cheap.

    Don’t get me wrong it’s not an eye for an eye with me here. This is simply a question of public safety and fiscal responsibility.

    Most of the people who end up on death row now have next to zero chance of rehabilitaion and the only other option is incarceration until they die of natural causes.

    So when you look at the potential dangers they possess to other prisoners, guards, and should they escape the public at large and combine that with the cost of their incarceration I believe it would be kinder to them and us.

    I know that if I ever found myself faced with a lifetime of prison and all that entails in all honesty a firing squad would be a mercy.

  23. Using conservative rough projections, estimates show the annual costs of the present (death penalty) system to be $137 million per year, in CA alone. The taxpayer is less burdened by sentencing of a criminal to life imprisonment. One could argue, James, that the people who commit these atrocities are mentally unable to understand their actions. Perhaps more important, and unjust, is the execution of innocent individuals, facilitated by capital punishment. I don't think this is acceptable collateral damage. You might be right, I would perhaps have a different opinion if I had lost a loved one, but I also think that what I would seek is vengeance not justice.

    ''Amen James'' ? – That's just wrong.

  24. If everyone lived by "do unto another as you would have them do unto you" our world would be a much better place

  25. The bigger issue is how we can have pity for a murderer who did not care about someone else's rights and yet those outraged by capital punishment don't seem to be crying about the millions we have killed in abortion. This county is in a sad state when the innocent are murdered without remorse and the guilty should live…

    • Josh,

      There are many people who are consistent on life issues, for example, they are anti-abortion and anti-death penalty.

  26. Mike: Not pity for convicted murderer, but if we are going to torture then don' t mince words and do it publically and wih intent, not by mistake.

  27. This execution made the paper because it was “botched”. No is questioning the legality of the execution. What needs to be addressed is the Eighth Amendment – ‎Cruel and unusual punishment. ‎ When other people are executed there performed within set guide lines and a specific time table; however, this execution took exceeding longer. Are extended executions a problem? Ex. A Cow is being killed with a knife and it takes 1min, ok. Let’s kill the Cow with a dull knife, and it will take 5mins. The amount of pain the cow will suffer due to extended kill time is very cruel and unusual. With humans we have to account for psychology factors such as the stress of knowing you’re going to be killed but are not die. No one knows how this person felt during this execution, but no one can contest that 1 hour compared to 5mins till death is not cruel and unusual. Others may hold that the end result is the same regardless. Does the end justify the means? If this were to happen 5 times, just let things slide, the end result is the same?

  28. Those responsible and who celebrated the European Drug Manufacturer's refusal to sell its products to death penalty states can blame themselves for this dirtbags complicated execution. Personally in this particular case I thank you for making it possible.

  29. I could care less on how we look in other countries eyes. We are not killing innocent women for being women, or killing people for their view on religion or politics. We do it because people on death row have done some pretty horrific and horrible things. So let them fry, there should be 2 or 3 death penalties a week in every state with some of these criminals who prey on innocent people.