Killing Russell Bucklew: Missouri's Planned Departure from Decency

Update: 3/19/18: The state of Missouri plans to execute Russell Bucklew tomorrow, March 20. Bucklew’s unique medical condition means that the execution is likely to go horribly wrong. As a result of his rare and severe condition, cavernous hemangioma, he may hemorrhage, choke and suffocate in his own blood during the execution.  If this happens, it won’t just be cruel and unconstitutional. It will be torturous. And Missouri wants to hide all this from the public.

Even by its own standards, the prison where this scene is set to take place is utterly unprepared for the execution scheduled just hours away. Prison officials admitted that they have no plan for how to respond if Mr. Bucklew appears to suffocate or choke.  They failed to make any adjustments to their execution protocol to account for Mr. Bucklew’s medical condition.

This is malpractice of cruel and unusual proportions, and the state of Missouri wants no record of it. The state’s strategy so far has been to hide information about the executions from the public and from Mr. Bucklew himself, including information about the sources and producers of the drugs the state plans to kill him with. 

A recent investigative report reveals that Missouri’s lethal injection program is hard to differentiate from any illegal drug deal: The state bought its drugs with cash payments and using code names for the drug seller.  The drug seller is a compounding pharmacy, a company that produces small batches of made to order drugs, essentially legal knock-offs of other drugs. Worse, the drug seller has a dismal health and safety record. The stakes of error in the lethal injection drug are high: If erroneously made, the drug may cause Bucklew to feel as if he is being burned alive.     

The time to intervene is now.

We filed a request for emergency action in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights asking it to intervene because the execution would violate international law, which prohibits torture and cruel and inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.  Today the IACHR responded by asking the United States to halt the execution of Mr. Bucklew in Missouri and commute his death sentence.  Missouri Governor Eric Greitens should commute Mr. Bucklew’s death sentence. Missouri cannot get away with knowingly following protocols that present a real risk that Mr. Bucklew will be tortured to death.

Something is scheduled to happen in Missouri at 12:01am on Wednesday morning that the state desperately doesn't want you to see.

Just two weeks after the horrific, botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma, Missouri plans to execute a man whose unique medical condition means that the execution is likely to go horribly wrong.

The man's name is Russell Bucklew.

He suffers from cavernous hemangioma, a rare, severe, and lifelong condition that causes him frequent hemorrhaging, difficulty in breathing, and often excruciating pain. If the state of Missouri injects compounded pentobarbital into his veins, as they plan to, medical experts warn that the lethal injection drugs may not circulate properly and may not put him under anesthesia. Instead, Mr. Bucklew could remain awake as he hemorrhages, chokes, and slowly suffocates to death.

Even by its own standards, the prison where this scene is set to take place is utterly unprepared for the execution scheduled just hours away. Prison officials admitted that they should conduct medical tests to develop an execution protocol that would account for Mr. Bucklew's medical condition, but they have failed to carry out these tests.

This is malpractice of cruel and unusual proportions, and the state of Missouri wants no record of it. The state's strategy so far has been to hide information about the executions from the public and from Mr. Bucklew himself, including information about the sources and producers of the drugs the state plans to kill him with. The state also has refused to videotape and document the execution. So if Mr. Bucklew suffers in the way the medical experts have identified as likely, there will be no video record of his torturous, unconstitutional execution.

The problem of secrecy, however, isn't just in Missouri.

Oklahoma also refused to disclose where it obtained the drugs it used in the botched execution of Mr. Lockett. Mr. Lockett remained conscious, struggling and writhing in pain, as the execution drugs slowly killed him over more than 40 minutes. Faced with the public outcry over the gruesome execution, the state still has refused to appoint an independent review. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin appointed Michael Thompson, commissioner of public safety, to conduct an investigation, but he is Fallin's direct employee, a member of her cabinet, and a former employee of the Department of Corrections. The appointment falls far short of the true independence necessary to fully assess what went wrong with Mr. Lockett's execution.

Missouri cannot get away with knowingly following protocols that present a real risk that Mr. Bucklew will be tortured to death. We cannot let him suffer the same fate as Mr. Lockett. Not only would this be unconstitutional, it would be a cruel departure from even our lowest standards of decency.

The time to intervene is now.

Yesterday we filed a request for emergency action in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and today the IACHR responded by asking the United States to halt the execution of Mr. Bucklew in Missouri and Charles Warner in Oklahoma until it can review whether those states' proposed execution practices would violate international law.

These states should comply.

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Anonymous

Neither does a barbaric crime have a place in society.
But for the record, I confess to not understanding WHAT the hell they're doing these days. They just seem to think they can change all the rules whenever they damn well feel like it. Refusing to have it videotaped? And how is the family supposed to watch it happen, like most of them seem to like doing? I'm a family member of a murder victim and so far as I know the only one who finds the idea of watching it wholly repulsive.
If they're going to do WHATever they want, WHENever they wish to do it then I want them to stop using MY part of the tax money to DO it.
And I'm for the death penalty. I'm just not for all whatEVER it is they're up to with all this secrecy. If you want secrecy use only your OWN money. I have no desire to pay for that too.

Scottie Jarrett

"Barbaric punishment has no place in our country." You said it. The death penalty is a form of retribution rather than justice. It is pointblank "cruel and inhuman" and the State ensures it takes place in secret, so that we the people don't see how very barbaric it is. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has blocked this execution until the medical issues can be examined. I applaud the ACLU's efforts to prevent another botched execution, another blot on the conscience of our nation.

Anonymous

What about when he raped someone? Was that necessary torture? Was it?

Anonymous

A human being > a murderer > lawyers...

Anonymous

Russell Bucklew needs to be properly killed by the state, right away.

Anonymous

The man should die exactly as his victims did. He should be made to suffer as they did. Good job Missouri!!!!

By the way. Has anyone noticed that the Aclu and other liberal groups try desperately to protect first degree murders while at the same time support the murder of innocent babies in the womb? Liberalism is a mental disorder.

Anonymous

I'm sorry but I find the whole, or ALmost the whole, article beyond disgusting. Especially since you say nothing of being repulsed that he shot at a 6-y.o child right after he'd alREADY shot the boy's dad right in front of the boy, whose dad died bleeding to death from a chest wound. But you're not even the least "horrified" or sickened at that - well, certainly not enough to say so anyway.
All I ever hear about is these filthy, vile, murderin' b*stards' rights and humanity and everything else good and/or decent about them while seeing phrases like "[WE'RE] taking a departure from decency." The way it's worded is so repugnant it makes me want to vomit without stopping. I'm sorry. It just makes me sick to even read it. In fact I COULDN'T read it without finding out what disgusting thing HE did to get there. I think I wanted to make sure he wasn't kidnapped in the night by Gestapo and put there for doing nothing but being a person the prison guards hate.

I'm not a mind-reader, incidentally, there's no way I'm going to simply assume that you care about the victim and his family; because when you get as morally outraged by what's happening to the person who did all this, I believe I can no longer assume ANYthing is "in its heaven" and that all's right with the world. It doesn't work for me, I don't know why but it doesn't.
I think that all's wrong no matter what happens once you've killed another person for no reason other than a ridiculous-sounding jealous rage.
For that matter, that "individual" did not then and never WILL deserve to get a gun legally.
But being all "decent" to him feels JUST as stupid as NOT being decent to him. It doesn't do a THING to make me feel "better" because I treated him all humanely. I don't know exactly when this changed but I know it happened AFTER watching someone in my family die from a violent death that was created on purpose by people who want you to believe they're 'pillars of virtue' or at least deserving of the same treatment that every law-abiding citizen gets even though the upstanding citizen has done everything in his power to AVOID caving into the temptation of killing people they find annoying or obnoxious.

Anonymous

I do wonder why you say not a word about the horrific crime that he committed. There is absolutely nothing about this man that cries out for sympathy, regardless of how you feel about the death penalty. The fact that you completely omit the fact that he murdered a man in front of his small children, attempted to kill a 6 year old boy, and then raped and tortured a woman for 12 hours straight, THEN escaped from prison, broke into her parents house, and attacked her parents with a hammer indicates that you are afraid of presenting any information that could possibly detract from your emotional appeal about this poor, unfortunate sociopath with weak veins.

Right wing and ...

"Liberalism is a mental disorder"
So is being conservative when you say things like you "want all gay people dead," want to blow up abortion clinics and kill abortionist doctors. I could go on but I believe everyone can deduce the point just from what I've said.
I live in a family of Republicans and one of them said he wants all gay people dead.
He wants them dead because they're homosexuals? Why?
How is that NOT "premeditated murder" even if you've only done it in your own head. He doesn't want to KEEP it in his head. He said he wished they were all dead.
Excuse me if I don't think the way some of us treat gays, immigrants, minimum wage workers and more is beastly and uncivilized while in between doing that we're also bragging about our fancy-ass degrees from MIT and Harvard and other high-falutin' schools.

Anonymous

Let's try this again. You are actually uncivilized barbarians who oppose the death penalty. It is OK in your world for these evil psychopaths to kill, rape, torture and flip off society afterwards while law-abiding citizens try to avoid being prey.

Let's be clear. Your extremely foolish argument that the death penalty does not deter is laughable. It deters one person at least from killing again, killing a warden, killing a fellow prisoner, or escaping and killing innocents. It clearly deters him or her.

You are the immoral and the ones that extend the suffering of victims' families, contemporary uncivilized barbarians that you are.

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