“I want to share with you my absolute conviction that the death penalty must disappear from the entire world as it is a shame for humanity. The death penalty does not protect society; it dishonors it,” said Robert Badinter, the French justice minister who led the successful effort to abolish capital punishment in France 40 years ago, at an event marking the anniversary last month.
In the U.S., where there is a death penalty in 24 states, nowhere is this debasement of our society more evident right now than in Oklahoma.
Two weeks ago, Oklahoma executed John Grant, its first execution since 2015, a hiatus necessitated by the horribly botched execution of Clayton Lockett in 2014, during which he struggled in agony in a pool of blood before dying. A year later was the bungled execution of Charles Warner, during which he was injected with the unauthorized drug potassium acetate, instead of the called-for potassium chloride, and died saying, “My body is on fire.” That was followed by the aborted execution of Richard Glossip nine months later, when officials discovered at the last minute that they were about to use potassium acetate again and were forced to call a halt.
But it doesn’t appear Oklahoma has learned anything in the ensuing six years. At a news conference posted on Twitter, AP reporter Sean Murphy described Grant’s death in graphic terms, explaining that he almost immediately began “full-body convulsions” after the first drug, midazolam, was administered. He convulsed about two dozen times — “hard” — and then began vomiting, which continued even after the execution team cleaned him up. Still, officials continued with the execution.