United Nations Human Rights Office Calls for U.S. to Declare Immediate Moratorium on Executions
Date:  05-06-2014

Bungled execution of Clayton Lockett raises disturbing questions about the drugs used and how they were administered
The ACLU of Oklahoma is sounding the alarm to end the death penalty after disturbing information about the execution of Clayton Lockett was released. Brady Henderson the Legal Director of ACLU of Oklahoma was quoted by that organization as saying, “There are serious concerns about the lethal injection process in light of more and more botched executions conducted with questionable drugs from questionable sources.” “Henderson added, “If we are to have executions at all, they must not be conducted like hastily thrown together human science experiments.”

The Huffington Post reported that Lockett was shocked with a stun gun on the day of his pending execution because he was reluctant to comply with orders to willingly leave his cell. Once Lockett was secured in the execution chamber things got even worse. While advocates of execution by legal injection claim the procedure is humane, in Lockett’s case it was anything but. A suitable vein could not be found to administer the needle filled with a deadly, and, according to the ACLU of Oklahoma, secretive concoction. After an hour the needle was inserted into a vein in Lockett’s groin. Read the Huffington Post’s account of the shocking events that followed.

On May 2, at joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington D.C., President Obama expressed his concern about problems associated with the death penalty. A transcript of the press conference released by the White House includes Obama's answer to a reporter’s question about the botched execution:

“What happened in Oklahoma is deeply troubling. The individual who was subject to the death penalty had committed heinous crimes, terrible crimes. And I’ve said in the past that there are certain circumstances in which a crime is so terrible that the application of the death penalty may be appropriate -- mass killings, the killings of children. But I’ve also said that in the application of the death penalty in this country, we have seen significant problems -- racial bias, uneven application of the death penalty, situations in which there were individuals on death row who later on were discovered to have been innocent because of exculpatory evidence. And all these I think do raise significant questions about how the death penalty is being applied. And this situation in Oklahoma I think just highlights some of the significant problems there.

So I’ll be discussing with Eric Holder and others to get me an analysis of what steps have been taken not just in this particular instance but more broadly in this area. I think we do have to, as a society, ask ourselves some difficult and profound questions around these issues.”