The botched execution this week of Clayton Lockett in #Oklahoma has shocked many people around the world. The focus has mainly been on the time it took for him to die – 43 minutes – during which he was seen to writhe in agony and struggle against the straps of the gurney. Towards the end, the curtains were drawn across the execution chamber and it was reported later that he had died from a ‘reported heart attack.’
The southern states of the USA have a particular devotion to the death penalty with #Texas in the lead. The penalty has a high degree of support from sections of the public despite the lack of any evidence that it has a deterrent effect. On the blog posts of an Oklahoma newspaper there is a selection of comments both against and for the execution. There are many Americans who find the process barbaric and the fact that it took Lockett 43 minutes to die is especially upsetting. But there are plenty who relish it, for example;
‘how can people feel pity for these cons?’
‘I am glad he died a slow and painful death. I only wish he suffered more.’
‘NO SYMPATHY from me.’
‘I only hope this happens to each and every other inmate where the death sentence is carried out.’
And so on and so forth. This is a selection and there are people who found it repugnant. Although the particular circumstances of this man’s death has caused a storm of outrage, the fact remains that many people are being executed and in the southern states at least, it remains in rude health. The posts show that a significant number of people relished the suffering and were not afraid of expressing this, albeit anonymously. On another blog post we reported on the governor of Texas’s use of the penalty as a draw for people to come to his state – a kind of promotional tool.
Although slow progress is being made with abolition, it will be many years before it is removed from states like Oklahoma and Texas. But why focus on this when the level of executions in China (a state secret but known to thousands) and Iran are at very much higher levels? The difference is that the USA is a leading nation and sets the moral tone in all sorts of situations. It is hard to persuade other countries in the world to stop this practice if the USA is still very publicly using it.