Wednesday, April 30, 2014

"I have found the missing link between the higher ape and civilized man: It is we." - Konrad Lorenz

But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
         Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
         For promis’d joy!
From Robert Burns, "To a Mouse" On Turning up in Her Nest with the Plow - November, 1785 
* * * * *
It's Oklahoma (wind sweeping down the plains, waving wheat that sure smells sweet, them belonging to the land) where they're really not doing so fine.

They've been having this problem.  They've been trying to kill Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner, but it's been a mess.  The two of them sued to learn what the drugs would be.  That led to a squabble between the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Supreme Court over who had a right to issue a stay while the litigation was going on.  Each court pointed to the other. 

Finally the Supreme Court issued a stay.  The governor said the court didn't have the authority and declared that he'd have them killed anyway.  (Can you spell Constitutional Crisis?)  She ordered a one week reprieve for Lockett to give the court a chance to see things her way.  Which they did, deciding that secret drugs were just fine and dissolving the stay. 

Which brought us to this evening.  Lockett's reprieve was till today and Warner's killing was scheduled for today.  So the Sooner State planned its first double execution since 1937 years.

Except.  You know, I didn't put that Robert Burns thing at the top of this for no reason.

Erik Eckholm in the Times.  
What was supposed to be the first of two executions here Tuesday night was halted when the prisoner, Clayton D. Lockett, began to twitch and gasp after he had already been declared unconscious and called out “man” and “something’s wrong,” according to witnesses.
Something was wrong indeed.
A doctor started to administer the first drug, a sedative intended to knock the man out, at 6:23. Ten minutes later, the doctor said that Mr. Lockett was unconscious, and started to administer the next two drugs, a paralytic and one intended to make the heart stop.
At that point, witnesses said, things began to go awry. Mr. Lockett’s body moved, his foot shook, and he mumbled, witnesses said.

At 6 :37, he tried to rise and exhaled loudly.
Of course now, with things absolutely having gone south, a clear mess.  Grotesque.  They closed the curtain.  Witnesses only get to witness what the state wants them to see, after all.  But it was too late. They'd seen.  They'd heard.  They knew the bullshit.

From CNN.
Yet the office of Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin issued a statement indicating "execution officials said Lockett remained unconscious after the lethal injection drugs were administered."
Anyway, they threw in the towel.  Called off the effort to kill Lockett tonight.  Gave Warner a two week reprieve while they try to figure out how to make it prettier (and more successful) next time.

Rommell Broom in Ohio back in 2009.  Now Clayton Lockett. Two failed lethal injections. Lockett became the second man they couldn't kill by lethal injection. 

Broom's still in litigation over what should happen to him.  Lockett . . . . Well, he's cheated the hangman for good.  43 minutes after they started poisoning him, he had a heart attack and died.

I get tired, frankly, of writing the same thing.  It turns out that it just isn't that easy to kill people in socially acceptable ways.

Missouri's talking about bringing back the chair.  (Or maybe that's Arkansas.  Really, what difference does it make?)  Because there hasn't been a failed electrocution since the 40's, though there have been plenty that didn't go right.  And there is that thing about how people actually burn to death, their blood literally boiling inside their bodies.

Or maybe the gas chamber where people choke and gasp for minutes after minutes, sickening the witnesses.  Debbie Denno says that the firing squad is actually the surest and probably most humane, but we want death to be bloodless, neat, scientific.  Medicalized.

And so we do IV lines and drugs from compounding pharmacies and prison guards who aren't competent to do any of this, but then doctors aren't allowed to participate in executions - although Oklahoma actually had a doctor doing the whole thing press reports say, and you know how well that went.

We don't know what we're doing.  We can't do it right.  And it seems we don't give a rat's ass.

And see Gideon

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