For Immediate Release: April 30, 2014
Contact: Chelsea Bond
(printable version here)

On Tuesday, April 29, the State of Oklahoma botched the execution of Clayton Lockett. Reports indicate that officials had to stop the execution when Lockett began moving and mumbling after apparently regaining consciousness. Lockett died of a heart attack 45 minutes after the execution began.

The bungled execution comes after weeks of wrangling between state courts and officials. The Oklahoma Supreme Court initially stayed the two executions so that they could review the legality of the state’s lethal injection secrecy law. Governor Mary Fallin then issued an order that she would not abide by the court’s decision, and the Oklahoma legislature threatened to impeach the justices that voted for a stay. As a result, the Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed its decision, allowing the execution to proceed.

“The horrifying nature of this execution was not unexpected,” said Matt Cherry, executive director of Death Penalty Focus. “Attorneys and doctors warned that the untested combination of drugs, along with their unknown source, could result in a painful or failed execution. Yet Oklahoma officials deliberately ignored the warnings and intimidated the courts in an overzealous attempt to force through this double execution without adequate judicial review. Their reckless haste resulted in torture that was as cruel as it was unconstitutional.”

In recent years, states across the country have resorted to increasingly desperate ways to continue executions as the lethal injection drug supply dwindles. States have attempted to hide protocols, drugs, and providers by passing secrecy laws, and even looked to return to archaic methods of execution such as the electric chair.

“Oklahoma’s gruesome attempt to kill Clayton Lockett reveals the desperation and chaos of the death penalty system in the US. The more the government tries to hide the cruelty and injustice of state executions, the more it demonstrates why the US must join the rest of the West in ending this inhumane practice,” added Cherry.


Founded in 1988, Death Penalty Focus is one of the largest nonprofit advocacy organizations in the nation dedicated to the abolition of capital punishment through public education; grassroots and political organizing; original research; media outreach; local, state and nationwide coalition building; and the education of religious, legislative and civic leaders about the death penalty and its alternatives.

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