MSNBC host Rachel Maddow ripped Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) and other Republicans on Wednesday, describing the 43-minute execution of inmate Clayton Lockett as the end result of states’ increasing desperation to be able to administer lethal injections.
“If you screw up an execution, it is forever,” Maddow said. “There is no going back. And 43 minutes after this disaster of an experimental process, rushed and politically forced by the Oklahoma governor over the court’s objections and the prisoners’ real questions about what was about to happen to them, 43 minutes into the process of this botched killing, they tried to stop after the fact. Forty-three minutes into it, the man finally did die of a massive heart attack.”
Maddow pointed out that the combination of drugs used in Lockett’s botched execution had not only never been tested, but was not even available a month beforehand, thanks in part to the shortage of chemicals formerly used in the procedures. The state’s Republican-led legislature also passed a law barring the public from knowing how or where it had acquired the drugs used for Lockett’s execution.
“Given the history of the sketchy places that people have been getting drugs, and the sketchy outcomes when these unknown drugs have been used in unknown quantities by people who aren’t doctors trying to kill people with them, it would be helpful to know where this stuff is from, what the origin of it is,” Maddow said. “Where’d Oklahoma get all this stuff since mid-March?”
The execution of Lockett on rape, kidnapping, robbery and murder charges went so badly that state Director of Corrections Robert Patton was quoted as saying he ordered a stop to it after Lockett began “writhing on the gurney, clenching his teeth” and trying to raise his head. He would later die in a hospital, after being taken out of the execution chamber.
Meanwhile, Fallin — who Maddow also criticized for defying a state Supreme Court order staying the executions of Lockett and fellow death row inmate Charles Warner over the lack of information concerning the chemicals involved — issued a 14-day stay of execution for Warner anyway, amid an investigation into what caused the procedure to go wrong with Lockett.
“Death isn’t just the end of the number line in terms of punishment,” she said. “It’s not just a further extension of all the things we do to punish people who commit crimes. Death is different. Death is qualitatively different. And the way we administer it in this country right now is in absolute chaos.”
Watch Maddow’s commentary, as aired on Wednesday on MSNBC, below.