What's at Stake
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a petition with the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights showing that the upcoming executions by lethal injection in Missouri and Oklahoma will violate international law against cruel and unusual punishment, should they go forward. The ACLU asks that the executions be stopped until the IACHR can conduct independent investigations of the two cases.
The state of Missouri is planning to execute Russell Bucklew on May 21, 2014. Mr. Bucklew would be the first death-row prisoner in the U.S. to be executed since the horrifically botched killing of Clayton Lockett by lethal injection in Oklahoma. Physicians predict that lethal injection for Mr. Bucklew will be prolonged, torturous, and gruesome due to his cavernous hemangioma, a rare, lifelong, and severe condition that causes, among other problems, weakening of his veins and tumors in his nose and throat that severely compromise his airway. The state plans to use compounded pentobarbital, the same drug that has repeatedly proved problematic, including in the botched January 9, 2014, execution of Michael Lee Wilson, in Oklahoma, whose last words were “I feel my whole body burning,” and in other executions that appeared to have serious difficulties. Charles Warner is scheduled to be executed in Oklahoma on November 13, and the state has resisted initiating a third-party independent investigation of Mr. Lockett’s death.