The recent disastrously botched execution of inmate Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma has caused some people who closely follow such grisly matters to compare and contrast the situation there to the one here in North Carolina. As Kristen Collins wrote yesterday on the blog maintained by the N.C. Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, North Carolina could indeed turn out to be the next Oklahoma:
That inmate’s protracted, painful death, and the national firestorm that has erupted in its wake, provide a preview of what could happen in North Carolina if its current execution protocol is ever put into practice.
The Oklahoma execution was carried out using an untested combination of drugs whose source was kept secret. The execution was scheduled, despite a legal challenge over this secrecy, only after the Supreme Court changed its mind due to political pressure. (Do those highly politicized Supreme Court elections sound familiar?)
North Carolina recently created a new execution protocol that would allow our state to stumble into all the same pitfalls:
- The protocol was decided unilaterally by the state Department of Public Safety, with no provisions for public input.
- It does not require the state to reveal the source of its drugs.
- It calls for the use of pentobarbital, the very drug that other states are struggling to find, forcing them to turn to unregulated compounding pharmacies.
North Carolina’s protocol is being challenged in court, and Oklahoma is Exhibit A for why our state must take this litigation seriously.
In this gravest of public functions, the public deserves absolute transparency. The state must explain to us how it will ensure that executions do not violate the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Right now, there are no guarantees that we would not have the same disastrous results we have seen in Ohio and Oklahoma. Until our courts shine more sunlight on North Carolina’s protocol, it would be irresponsible to even consider restarting executions.”