MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Editorials

May 1, 2014

State must be better than killers

Oklahoma must suspend executions until the state can carry out the death sentence with even a small degree of humanity — something that failed to happen Tuesday.

A convicted killer, Clayton Lockett, died of a massive heart attack after the administration of a three-drug lethal injection had started. It was a very painful and inhumane way to die.

The botched execution came after Lockett and another convicted killer, Charles Warner, received temporary stays of execution from the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

The court stayed the executions while it deliberated over whether the state had an obligation to reveal the source of execution drugs.

The court’s decision to wait — not set aside  the death penalty —  so enraged at least one state lawmaker  that he drafted a resolution seeking to impeach the five justices who voted in favor of the stays.

That kind of rage is easy to feel when you are weighing the rights of victims versus the rights of the convicted.

It is difficult to feel empathy for a convicted killer — someone who clearly felt no empathy for his victims.

It is difficult to seek humanity in the death penalty.

It is difficult to find the will to treat convicted killers with the basic respect he or she failed to show their victims.

It is easy to feel vindictive and righteous when the murders are especially heinous because we seek justice for the victims and their families.

But our ability to feel empathy, seek humanity, show respect and ignore our worst instincts is what sets us apart from those convicted killers.

Those qualities — humane, decent qualities — are qualities we should be using when given the responsibility of sitting in judgment of others.

Convicted killers deserve to face the sentences handed down from the courts. Guilty parties deserve to face punishment for their crimes.

Gov. Mary Fallin has called for an investigation into the botched execution, but has only delayed the next scheduled execution until May 13 at the earliest.

Lawmakers instead should insist all executions be halted until the state does all it can to keep from becoming the barbaric killers it seeks to put to death.

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