Could a Botched Execution Happen in Missouri?

After the debacle in Oklahoma many wonder if a botched execution could happen in Missouri. Actually some problems were reported with the Missouri execution of Emitt Foster in 1995, but it did not receive the press coverage that the Oklahoma execution has.  Perhaps as a nation we are more sensitive to executions these days.

But, because of changes in lethal drugs and continuing secrecy, Missouri could experience a situation like Oklahoma.  Little is known about the drugs Missouri now uses in lethal injection or the supplier.  There is no public oversight of the training or the credentials of those who carry out executions.  Missouri has shown great haste in carrying out executions, even before the inmate’s due process rights are completed in the courts.

All of this is a recipe for disaster.  Without transparency and accountability, many death penalty opponents believe it is inevitable that Missouri could see a debacle like Oklahoma.

Russell Bucklew is scheduled for execution in Missouri on May 21.  A serious risk for a botched execution exists in this case. From infancy Mr. Bucklew has suffered from a rare and severe form of cavernous hemangioma.  Tumors, slowed blood flow, and weak, malformed vessels that, even under normal conditions can easily rupture characterize this condition.

Independent medical specialists who have reviewed Mr. Bucklew’s case records have expressed serious concerns about his vessels hemorrhaging during the execution, or him suffering a prolonged and excruciating execution because the lethal drugs are not able to circulate properly in his malformed vessels.  It is not known at this time if the Department of Corrections has done anything to review Mr. Bucklew’s condition or minimize risks in an execution.


Posted: May 2, 2014

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