Untested drug cocktails from secret sources leads to torturous executions in Oklahoma

Over the past year, there's been more and more coverage about the fact that European chemical companies are refusing to sell American states the ingredients to make execution drugs — and the fact that many states are responding to those limits by creating new, untested drug cocktails with the help of compounding pharmacies that they refuse to name.

What happens when you outsource the death penalty to questionable manufacturers with no public oversight? As you might guess, the answer is pretty gruesome. And probably unconstitutional, at least according to a New York Times op-ed, written in the wake of a botched execution in Oklahoma.

At 6:36 p.m. on Tuesday in McAlester, Okla., Clayton Lockett started kicking his leg, then twitching, then writhing and moaning in agony, and everyone watching knew something had gone terribly wrong. Mr. Lockett, a convicted murderer, was strapped to a gurney in the death chamber of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, about to be executed by lethal injection, but the untested combination of a sedative and a paralyzing agent had failed.

According to an eyewitness account by a reporter for The Tulsa World, Mr. Lockett tried to raise himself up, mumbled the word “man,” and was in obvious pain. Officials hastily closed the blinds on the chamber and told reporters that the execution had been stopped because of a “vein failure.” But at 7:06, the inmate was pronounced dead of a heart attack.

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