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A Botched Execution And The Death Penalty Now

The botched execution in Oklahoma. The President calls it ‘deeply troubling.’ The UN says a possible violation of international law.

With guest host Jessica Yellin.

Bundled up against the cold, death penalty opponents hold a sign outside the Governor's mansion in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, protesting the McAlester, Okla., execution of Michael Lee Wilson. A recently botched execution of another Oklahoma prisoner has prompted further debate around the use of unknown chemicals to kill convicted criminals. (AP)

Bundled up against the cold, death penalty opponents hold a sign outside the Governor’s mansion in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, protesting the McAlester, Okla., execution of Michael Lee Wilson. A recently botched execution of another Oklahoma prisoner has prompted further debate around the use of unknown chemicals to kill convicted criminals. (AP)

The horrifically botched execution in Oklahoma.  President Obama orders a federal review. The UN says international law may have been violated.  With lethal-injection drugs in short supply, a chaotic national patchwork of rules, racial disparities in sentencing and a series of flawed executions, capital punishment is in the spotlight. New questions about the drugs being used and the constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment. Passions are high on both sides of the debate. We’ll hear it. This hour On Point: the nation’s views on capital punishment.

Guests

Devlin Barrett, Justice Department reporter for The Wall Street Journal. (@DevlinBarrett)

Peter Neufeld, co-director of the Innocence Project.

John Malcolm, director of the Legal Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation. (@malcolm_john)

Ziva Branstetter, Tulsa World enterprise editor. (@ZivaBranstetter)

From The Reading List

The Wall Street Journal: Justice Department Expands Review of Death-Penalty Procedures — “A department spokesman said the agency would begin a review of state-run death-penalty programs, similar to one it has been conducting on federal capital punishment. Federal executions are rare, and there has been a moratorium in place since 2011 while the Justice Department reviews its policies.”

Tulsa World: DOC director confident Michael Thompson can lead independent probe of botched execution — “Lockett was pronounced dead 43 minutes after the execution began on Tuesday. Witnesses including a Tulsa World reporter watched as he writhed in pain for three minutes, mumbling, kicking, clenching his jaw and raising up off the gurney. Warden Anita Trammell ordered blinds lowered in the execution chamber. It was discovered that the lethal drugs flowing through an IV had either leaked out, absorbed into Lockett’s tissue or both. Patton said the problem occurred because Lockett’s vein burst.”

Associated Press: Lawmakers Say They Won’t Abandon Death Penalty — “The inmate’s agony alone is highly unlikely to change minds about capital punishment in the nation’s most active death-penalty states, where lawmakers say there is little political will to move against lethal injections – and a single execution gone wrong won’t change that.”

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