Sen. Coburn: Death Penalty is 'Deterrent'

Thursday, 01 May 2014 11:43 AM

By Wanda Carruthers

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The death penalty works as a "deterrent" despite the failures of a botched execution in Oklahoma Tuesday for a convicted killer, Sen. Tom Coburn said.

Officials halted the execution of Clayton Lockett when he began to thrash uncontrollably several minutes after lethal drugs were administered. Lockett died of a heart attack 43 minutes after the procedure began.

"I haven't changed my position. I think it is a deterrent that does affect and impact people," the Oklahoma Republican told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Thursday.

Story continues below video.



The fault of Lockett's execution was not due to the drugs used, Coburn maintained, but with the procedure with which they were administered.

"As a physician, I can tell you it's obvious that they didn't have good access to his circulatory system. And, the drugs that were injected didn't get into his circulatory system," Coburn said.

Problems associated with the execution will lead to a "discussion about the death penalty and whether or not that, in and of itself, is appropriate. And, then, whether you can do that humanely," Coburn said.

During the interview, the death penalty debate became spirited between "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough and advertising executive Donny Deutsch over questions whether the procedure was humane.

Deutsch questioned if the panel was "stumbling" over "the fact that [Lockett's] death maybe happened a few seconds slower." Scarborough countered that it spoke to the larger issue of lethal injection.

"The entire purpose of lethal injection is supposed to make it more humane. Not for the person being executed, but because we have a Constitution that forbids us to engage in cruel and unusual punishment," Scarborough, a former Florida congressman, said.

Deutsch responded that, given the crime Lockett committed, he wasn't "losing any sleep over what happened."

Scarborough replied: "Maybe you should lose sleep over the Constitution of the United States, because the Constitution wasn't made for this guy. It was made for us all of us."

Coburn maintained that the number of botched executions was a "very, very small number." He suggested the problem with Lockett's execution was "an error on the part of individuals to not follow a protocol."

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