"A Bad Death in Oklahoma," is by Hendrik Hertzberg for the New Yorker. Here's the beginning of this must-read:
The most telling moment in Oklahoma’s botched execution of Clayton Lockett came six minutes after the purportedly lethal drugs had begun to enter the condemned man’s body through an intravenous tube. It was a moment that pointed up the contradictions, incoherence, and bad faith of the death penalty as it is practiced in the United States, the only advanced democracy on earth that retains it.
Washington Post syndicated columnist Eugene Robinson writes, "There’s no humane way to carry out the death penalty."
When I read about the crimes Lockett committed, I wish I could support capital punishment. When I read about what Warner did, I want to strangle him with my own hands. But revenge is not the same thing as justice, and karmic retribution is not a power I trust government to exercise. The death penalty has no place in a civilized society.
"The Investigation of the Horrific Oklahoma Execution Will Not Be ‘Independent’," is by David Firestone at the New York Times Taking Note blog.
Did anyone really believe that Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma would allow a truly independent review of the “execution” — death by torture is more like it — that shocked the conscience of the nation and the world on Tuesday night?
It was Governor Fallin’s insistent demand for speed in killing Clayton Lockett that forced the state to use an untested mixture of toxic chemicals in the execution, during which Mr. Lockett sat up, moaned and writhed in pain. (He eventually died of a heart attack.) The state Supreme Court tried to stop the procedure, a lower court judge said it was clearly unconstitutional and lawyers warned for months that the state didn’t know what it was doing. But she overruled the court and pushed ahead with the execution, eager to show that no liberal judges would stop her from dispensing her state’s brand of justice.
Any serious investigation of the fiasco would have to closely examine the governor’s conduct leading up to it.
"Why conservatives should oppose the death penalty," is by Radley Balko at the Washington Post's the Watch blog.
People who subscribe to different belief systems sometimes have irreconcilable views on public policy issues with a strong moral component. The death penalty is one of those issues. But conservatives are supposed to be skeptical of government. That is a fundamental part of their belief system. And, except perhaps war, there’s no issue for which the consequences of government error or abuse of power are more absolute, irreversible and profound. Even if they support the idea of capital punishment in principle, it ought to be one of the last issues for which conservatives would be willing to abandon that skepticism. Yet it seems to be one of the issues for which their skepticism is most negotiable.
Also at the Post,"What it was like watching the botched Oklahoma execution," by Mark Berman.
On Tuesday, once the witnesses were brought in and seated, they waited. ”You just sort of sit there, maybe talking very quietly to the person next to you, until the blinds rise,” Branstetter told The Post the day after the execution. Branstetter, the enterprise editor at the Tulsa World, spends part of her time reporting and part of her time managing a team. She has witnessed three executions in the past, most recently the January execution of Michael Wilson.
Her experience attending other executions is part of the reason she went to this one; Oklahoma was using a new lethal injection drug for the first time, and the secrecy surrounding the drugs had caused a protracted argument that extended to the state’s courts and lawmakers. Branstetter had been there in January when Michael Wilson was killed with a three-drug mix that had been obtained from a compounding pharmacy. Wilson’s final words, spoken after the injections: “I feel my whole body burning.” So she wanted to go to see what was different this time.
The Atlantic posts, "Bring the Guillotine Back to Death Row," by Conor Friedersdor.
This punishment isn't worth the costs it imposes on us.
So let's bring back the guillotine—and once it forces us to confront the barbarity of needlessly killing people who pose no threat to us, let's abolish the death penalty. Countries without the death penalty get along just fine, and I don't think Americans will be able to stomach it once they look it squarely in the face.
"Every US execution is just as shameful as Oklahoma's botched killing," is by Jesse Berney at the Guardian's Comment is free section.
The recently botched state-sanctioned deaths – at least six in the last four-and-a-half-years – are terrible. But they're also distraction from the truth that we refuse to confront as a nation: every execution is just as brutal, just as shameful, and just as much a blow to justice as what happened to that man on Tuesday night.
Also in the Guardian, "It's time for the US supreme court to declare a death penalty moratorium," by Randall T Coyne.
As the world is now well aware, my state's effort to execute two prisoners in the same day for the first time since 1937 turned into a horrible miscarriage. We should have seen it coming, of course, as the secrecy and the scarcity of the drug cocktail in the execution mixed with the bickering and the borderline constitutional crisis in the halls of Oklahoma government, where all hell was breaking loose. Until, that is, hell came to the death chamber.
"Justice system shouldn't leave blood on our hands," is by Arizona Republic editor Jennifer Dokes.
Should a system that is not fail-proof have a penalty as certain as death?
And now, as horrifically demonstrated this week in Oklahoma, we're not even certain how to kill people. The Innocence Project lists 18 people who were sentenced to die and later exonerated. We were going to kill them.
Today, we aren't even killing well. End the death penalty.
I'll be adding additional links, later.
Earlier coverage of Oklahoma's botched execution begins at the link.