Texas governor Rick Perry remains unsure if last week’s botched execution in Oklahoma fell short of proper human rights practices.
The Republican defended the use of capital punishment and lethal injection during an interview on NBC News’ Meet the Press on Sunday.
“I don’t know whether it was inhumane or not, but it was botched,” he said in the interview. “There’s an appropriate way to deal with this, and obviously something went terribly wrong.”
Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner were scheduled to be executed two hours apart from one another last week in Oklahoma with previously untested drugs. Lockett, the first to die, suffered a heart attack after officials injected him with a lethal drug. As the drug was being administered, Lockett reportedly shook uncontrollably and gritted his teeth before the eventual failure of his vein.
The governor of Oklahoma subsequently ordered the Department of Corrections postpone Warner’s execution until May 13 in order to investigate and review the incident. President Barack Obama then called for a review of capital punishment nationally. Last week he said the incident “highlights some of the significant problems” with the practice.
Perry said officials in Texas use one drug, unlike in Oklahoma, where they have scrambled to find new suppliers of lethal injection medication.
Thirty-two states currently enforce the death penalty. Texas has executed more than 500 people, the most in the country, since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the practice in 1976. There are currently at least 270 people on death row in the state.
The 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects Americans from cruel and unusual punishment. The standard remains that the death penalty is constitutional if it imposes on individuals no more pain than is necessary.
“In Texas, for a substantially long period of time, our citizens have decided that if you kill our children, if you kill our police officers, for those very heinous crimes the appropriate punishment is the death penalty,” Perry said. “I’m confident that the way the executions are taken care of in the state of Texas are appropriate and humane.”