By Robert A. Vella

The public furor swirling around the terribly botched execution in Oklahoma yesterday is centered on the ongoing debate over the death penalty, and the use of cruel and unusual punishment which violates the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  But, a deeper look into this incident reveals an insidious political power play conducted by the state’s right-wing Republican officials.

Lethal injection, the most common method of capital punishment in the U.S., has become problematic in recent years because of a growing backlash against the manufacturers of those drugs.  The bad publicity has greatly reduced the availability of such chemicals.  In response, states began enacting secrecy laws to protect the identity of their sources.  From:  Secrecy surrounds execution drugs in most states

An Associated Press survey of the 32 death penalty states found that the vast majority refuse to disclose the source of their execution drugs. The states cloaked in secrecy include some with the most active death chambers — among them Texas, Florida, Oklahoma and Missouri.

Most states have recently begun relying on loosely regulated “compounding pharmacies” for execution drugs but refuse to name them, citing concerns about backlash that could endanger the supplier’s safety. But many states refuse to provide even more basic information — how much of the drug is on hand, the expiration date, how it is tested. Those who question the secrecy wonder how an inmate’s constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment can be guaranteed if nothing is known about the drug being used to kill him.

In March, an Oklahoma district court ruled that state’s lethal injection secrecy statute unconstitutional citing the Eighth Amendment.  And earlier this month, the Oklahoma supreme court upheld that decision.

Then, Oklahoma’s right-wing went berserk.  First, governor Mary Fallin said she would execute the two inmates involved in the case anyway, and the state’s Republican-controlled legislature threatened to impeach the five supreme court justices who supported the lower court ruling.  Bowing to pressure, the supreme court subsequently reversed its earlier decision!  From:  Oklahoma court lifts stay of executions, heading off confrontation with governor

The Oklahoma supreme court has dissolved its stay of the executions of two men who challenged the state’s secrecy about its source of lethal injection drugs. The court reversed the decision of a district court judge who said the law that keeps the source secret is unconstitutional.

The turnaround heads off a potential constitutional crisis sparked by the state’s Republican governor, Mary Fallin, who had tried to override the stay by issuing an executive order to go ahead with the sentences.

A day after the Oklahoma supreme court originally issued a stay of execution for the two convicted killers, the governor issued her own order on Tuesday that the state would carry out the sentences next week, but legal experts said she had no power to do so.

The court’s reversal on Wednesday came hours after a resolution by an Oklahoma House member to try to impeach some of its justices.

But, that acquiescence by the supreme court wasn’t enough to satisfy radical right-wingers.  They are going ahead with impeachment proceedings.  From:  State Rep. Christian won’t drop effort to impeach five Oklahoma Supreme Court justices

OKLAHOMA CITY — A lawmaker said Thursday that he will pursue the impeachment of five Oklahoma Supreme Court justices, despite the dissolution of execution stays issued late Wednesday.

Rep. Mike Christian, R-Oklahoma City, filed articles of impeachment Wednesday saying the state Supreme Court acted outside of its scope when five of the nine members voted to issue stays for death row inmates Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner.

One is left wondering about the mental health of people who are so rabidly intent on killing other human beings.

2 thoughts on “The real controversy behind Oklahoma’s botched execution

  1. An interesting article, I agree that the mental health of those who pursue the death of other human beings with such determination is to be questioned. In my opinion such intent indicates a warped mentality. I am opposed to the death penalty by any means, in addition to its barbarism and the detrimental effect it must surely have on those who carry it out what good does it achieve? None that I can see. Life imprisonment is surely punishment enough. I think no one has the right to take the life of another. And one has to ask if those that do so are any better than the criminals they execute.


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