In a press conference today, White House spokesman Jay Carney condemned the recent execution of Oklahoma prisoner Clayton Lockett, in which an unorthodox lethal injection cocktail resulted in violent convulsions and a ruptured vein for the prisoner. Carney said the execution was clearly inhumane, raising questions over whether it violated the constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.
A dwindling supply of lethal injection drugs
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has already stayed the execution of another inmate in the wake of the controversy, and today announced an independent review of the state's execution procedure. The biggest concern is the dwindling supply of lethal injection drugs, brought on by reluctant drug companies and harsh new export restrictions from the European Union. In response, many states like Oklahoma have turned to unorthodox and often secret combinations of drugs. The result is more and more executions like Lockett's, which many groups see as an indictment of capital punishment at large.
And while Lockett's execution has drawn attention for its unsettling details, it's not the only such case this year. In January, an Ohio inmate took 20 minutes to die amid "snorting" and "gasping," after being administered an experimental combination of drugs.