Politics

White House: Botched Execution In Oklahoma Fell Short Of Humane Standards

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says a botched execution of a death row inmate in Oklahoma fell short of the humane standards required when the death penalty is carried out.

Officials halted Clayton Lockett's execution Tuesday when he convulsed violently and tried to lift his head after a doctor declared him unconscious. He later died of an apparent heart attack.

White House spokesman Jay Carney says President Barack Obama believes evidence shows the death penalty doesn't effectively deter crime. But he says Obama believes some crimes are so heinous that the death penalty is merited. He says the crimes in Lockett's case are indisputably heinous.

But Carney says the U.S. has a fundamental standard that the death penalty must be carried out humanely. He says everyone would recognize that this case fell short.

Lethal Injection
AP
Until 2010, most states used a three-drug combination: an anesthetic (pentobarbital or sodium thiopental), a paralytic agent (pancuronium bromide) to paralyze the muscle system, and a drug to stop the heart (potassium chloride). Recently, European pharmaceutical companies have refused to sell drugs to the U.S. for use in lethal injections, requiring states to find new, untested alternatives.
Gas Chamber
AP
Gas chambers, like this one pictured at the former Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, Mo., were first used in the U.S. in 1924. In the procedure, an inmate is sealed inside an airtight chamber which is then filled with toxic hydrogen cyanide gas. Oxygen starvation ultimately leads to death, but the inmate does not immediately lose consciousness.
Electric Chair
AP
The first electric chair was used in 1890. Electrodes attached to an inmate's body deliver a current of electricity. Sometimes more than one jolt is required.
Hanging
AP
Hanging was used as the primary method of execution in the U.S. until the electric chair's invention in 1890. Death is typically caused by dislocation of the vertebrae or asphyxiation, but in cases when the rope is too long, the inmate can sometimes be decapitated. If too short, the inmate can take up to 45 minutes to die.
Firing Squad
AP
This Old West-style execution method dates back to the invention of firearms. In a typical scenario in the U.S., the inmate is strapped to a chair. Five anonymous marksmen stand 20 feet away, aim rifles at the convict's heart, and shoot. One rifle is loaded with blanks.
Beheading
Wikimedia Commons
Decapitation has been used in capital punishment for thousands of years. Above is the chopping block used for beheadings at the Tower of London.
Guillotine
Kauko via Wikimedia Commons
Invented in France in the late 18th century during the French Revolution, the guillotine was designed to be an egalitarian means of execution. It severed the head more quickly and efficiently than beheading by sword.
Hanging, Drawing and Quartering
Wikimedia Commons
A punishment for men convicted of high treason, "hanging, drawing and quartering" was used in England between the 13th and 19th centuries. Men were dragged behind a horse, then hanged, disemboweled, beheaded, and chopped or torn into four pieces.
Slow Slicing
Carter Cutlery/Wikimedia Commons
Also called "death by a thousand cuts," this execution method was used in China from roughly A.D. 900 until it was banned in 1905. The slicing took place for up to three days. It was used as punishment for treason and killing one's parents.
Boiling Alive
Wikimedia Commons
Death by boiling goes back to the first century A.D., and was legal in the 16th century in England as punishment for treason. This method of execution involved placing the person into a large cauldron containing a boiling liquid such as oil or water.
Crucifixion
Wikimedia Commons
Crucifixion goes back to around the 6th century B.C.used today in Sudan. For this method of execution, a person is tied or nailed to a cross and left to hang. Death is slow and painful, ranging from hours to days.
Burning Alive
Pat Canova via Getty Images
Records show societies burning criminals alive as far back as the 18 century B.C. under Hammurabi's Code of Laws in Babylonia. It has been used as punishment for sexual deviancy, witchcraft, treason and heresy.
Live Burial
Antoine Wiertz/Wikimedia Commons
Execution by burial goes back to 260 B.C. in ancient China, when 400,000 were reportedly buried alive by the Qin dynasty. Depending on the size of the coffin (assuming there is one), it can take anywhere from 10 minutes to several hours for a person to run out of oxygen.
Stoning
Wikimedia Commons
This ancient method of execution continues to be used as punishment for adultery today.
Crushing By Elephant
Wikimedia Commons
This method was commonly used for many centuries in South and Southeast Asia, in which an elephant would crush and dismember convicts as a punishment for treason.
Flaying
Michelangelo/Wikimedia Commons
Records show flaying, the removal of skin from the body, was used as far back as the 9th century B.C.
Impalement
Wikimedia Commons
Records show this execution practice used as far back as the 18th century B.C., where a person is penetrated through the center of their body with a stake or pole.