Speaking of the US rivalry with Saudi Arabia over who can inflict the most sadistic punishments, the Death Penalty Information Center gives us some examples of botched executions. Not all; just some.
Be warned – obviously this is not pleasant reading.
NOTE: The cases below are not presented as a comprehensive catalogue of all botched executions, but simply a listing of examples that are well-known. There are 44 executions listed: 2 by asphyxiation, 10 by electrocution, and 32 by lethal injection, and 1 attempted execution by lethal injection.
- August 10, 1982. Virginia. Frank J. Coppola. Electrocution.
Although no media representatives witnessed the execution and no details were ever released by the Virginia Department of Corrections, an attorney who was present later stated that it took two 55-second jolts of electricity to kill Coppola. The second jolt produced the odor and sizzling sound of burning flesh, and Coppola’s head and leg caught on fire. Smoke filled the death chamber from floor to ceiling with a smoky haze.
The next one is also an electrocution and it’s nightmarish. Why is this supposed to be a relatively “humane” method?
3. Sept. 2, 1983. Mississippi. Jimmy Lee Gray. Asphyxiation. Officials had to clear the room eight minutes after the gas was released when Gray’s desperate gasps for air repulsed witnesses. His attorney, Dennis Balske of Montgomery, Alabama, criticized state officials for clearing the room when the inmate was still alive. Said noted death penalty defense attorney David Bruck, “Jimmy Lee Gray died banging his head against a steel pole in the gas chamber while the reporters counted his moans (eleven, according to the Associated Press).” Later it was revealed that the executioner, Barry Bruce, was drunk.
18. March 10, 1992. Oklahoma. Robyn Lee Parks. Lethal Injection. Parks had a violent reaction to the drugs used in the lethal injection. Two minutes after the drugs were dispensed, the muscles in his jaw, neck, and abdomen began to react spasmodically for approximately 45 seconds. Parks continued to gasp and violently gag until death came, some eleven minutes after the drugs were first administered. Tulsa World reporter Wayne Greene wrote that the execution looked “painful and ugly,” and “scary.” “It was overwhelming, stunning, disturbing — an intrusion into a moment so personal that reporters, taught for years that intrusion is their business, had trouble looking each other in the eyes after it was over.”
We rival Saudi Arabia.
When you rival Saudi Arabia in the violence and cruelty of your judicial punishments, something is wrong.