A diary of the grotesque

Clayton Lockett raped and murdered an 11-month-old girl. That crime earned him the death penalty in Oklahoma. Lockett was strapped to a gurney in the prison’s death chamber on Tuesday. At 6:28 p.m. he was injected with 50 milligrams of midazolam, which was supposed to render him unconscious before the final two drugs would be administered to kill the convict. We quote from the eye-witness account of Tulsa World Editor Ziva Branstetter:

“6:31 p.m. The doctor checks Lockett’s pupils and places his hand on the inmate’s chest, shaking him slightly. ‘Mr. Lockett is not unconscious.’

“6:33 p.m. The doctor checks Lockett a second time after a full minute without movement. ‘Mr. Lockett is unconscious,’ (Warden) Trammell states. …

“6:36 p.m. Lockett kicks his right leg and his head rolls to the side. He mumbles something we can’t understand.

“6:37 p.m. The inmate’s body starts writhing and bucking and it looks like he’s trying to get up. Both arms are strapped down and several straps secure his body to the gurney. He utters another unintelligible statement. Defense attorney Dean Stanford is quietly crying in the observation area.

“6:38 p.m. Lockett is grimacing, grunting and lifting his head and shoulders entirely up from the gurney. He begins rolling his head from side to side. He again mumbles something we can’t understand, except for the word ‘man.’ He lifts his head and shoulders off the gurney several times, as if he’s trying to sit up. He appears to be in pain.”

At 6:39 p.m. the blinds were closed so the observers could not see what was happening.

At 6:50 p.m. a state official reports that the execution has been stopped. “We’ve had a vein failure in which the chemicals did not make it into the offender,” the official said.

At 7:06 p.m. the head of the department of corrections reports that Lockett was pronounced dead of a heart attack, 38 minutes after the first sedative injection.

You can determine if this is cruel and unusual punishment, if it is barbaric even to a child rapist/murderer, and if it is morally right (most Christian churches have condemned it).

The fact is that the death penalty did not deter Lockett from his crime. If it were a deterrent, Texas would not have the highest per-capita murder rate in the USA (and the highest number of executions).

It served as punishment only. We believe that life in Fort Madison probably is worse than death.

The dead girl’s family, prison officials, attorneys and the press were invited to witness the macabre, botched show. If capital punishment is supposed to bring closure, we do not understand how this achieved the goal.

One man stands in the way of bringing the death penalty back to Iowa. He is Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, who has declared that capital punishment will not be revived on his watch. Gov. Terry Branstad has tried twice to restore the death penalty, discarded by Gov. Harold Hughes.

We pray Gronstal holds his position for a long, long time.

Iowa needs no part of a futile, cruel, barbaric and un-Christian practice that most of the developed world shuns.


From the eggs come growth

After a successful bond vote, we said that Sioux Central School District is poised for growth, in part, because of the presence of Rembrandt Enterprises. A reader asks: How much of Sioux Central’s enrollment increases in recent years is because of the egg producer’s growth in employment? We checked Census records and found:

The population of Latinos, Asians and African Americans increased by 95 from 2000 to 2010 in Rembrandt and Sioux Rapids, according to the US Census. We know from experience in Storm Lake that these populations generally are of child-rearing age; hence, the increase in Storm Lake school enrollment. We know that most of these students’ parents work at Tyson, Hillshire or Rembrandt Enterprises. The employment base at other employers in northern Buena Vista County has remained relatively stable.

Meanwhile, the population of “whites” in Rembrandt declined by 31 in the 10-year Census period.

Were it not for the infusion of immigrant workers, the greater Sioux Central School District would have declined in population, and enrollments would have declined at an even faster clip. That’s the story all over rural Iowa where Anglos are dying or moving faster than they can reproduce. Were it not for Rembrandt Enterprises, approving a bond issue to accommodate growing enrollment would have been a much harder decision.