The Death Penalty: Law and Order

Photo via Flickr under Creative Commons license

Photo via Flickr under Creative Commons license

Annie Wang, Staff Writer

There has always been controversy surrounding the death penalt;, however, current news has caused this controversy to intensify. In Oklahoma, Clayton Lockett was convicted of the murder, rape, kidnapping, and robbery of 19-year old Stephanie Nieman. He was sentenced to the death penalty in 2000.

During his recent execution on April 29, Lockett was injected with a cocktail of three lethal drugs that would sedate him, stop his breathing, and stop his heart. Ten minutes after he was given the drugs, he began “twitching” and “it looked like his whole upper body was trying to lift off the gurney,” according to his attorney Dean Sanderford.

Curtains were drawn, the microphone was silenced, and the officials stopped the execution. Forty-three minutes after, Lockett had a heart attack and died. The next scheduled execution was cancelled.

Richard W. Garnett, who worked as a previous Supreme Court law clerk, believes that this will “cause officials in the state to review carefully their execution procedures and methods.”

The drugs used in injections draw questions as to whether or not these executions violate the Eighth Amendment in the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits the use of “cruel and unusual punishment.”

However, Chief Justice John Roberts notes, “The Constitution does not demand the avoidance of all risk of pain in carrying out executions.”

While the Oklahoma attorney general office is “gathering information on what happened in order to evaluate,” Mary Fallin, the current Governor of Oklahoma, “believe[s] the legal process worked” and “the death penalty is a appropriate response and punishment,” but “the state needs to be certain of its protocols and its procedures for executions and that they work.”

Even though this new case will certainly undergo investigation, there is no doubt a question will arise of how we, as America, will strive for justice. Whether that means taking one life to avenge the loss of another  or seeking out the truth, the definition of justice is different for everyone.