Very few news alerts that appear on my iPhone screen throughout the day actually grab my attention. Normally I take a quick glance and, if nothing pops out at me, I turn my phone over and ignore it. There are a handful of breakings news bulletins, however, that force me to swipe right and read the entire story.
On Tuesday night, my jaw dropped when my New York Times app revealed a “botched execution attempt” in Oklahoma. Clayton Lockett, a man convicted of murder and several other charges in 2000, was sentenced to die at 6 P.M. on April 29, 2014. For the first time since 1990, when Oklahoma reinstated the use of lethal injection, the procedure went horribly wrong.
Witnesses to Lockett’s execution included family of the victims, various citizens, and a number of reporters; all of whom were quite shaken after the inmate did not die from the deadly cocktail of drugs, but rather a heart attack several minutes later.
A recent Gallup poll revealed that a majority of Americans support the death penalty, but the number is down from years past. Although 60% of the country has clicked on a bubble in an online survey, very few will ever watch an execution occur. As former Washington Post reporter Josh White explained, it is journalists’ job to allow the public to “bear witness to executions, as they are part of the justice system that we all, as members of this society, support.”
Because they take place behind closed doors, in private facilities, and do not receive much more media coverage than any other event, I do not think Americans fully grasp for what they are providing their opinion. Stories like Lockett’s cause the debate for or against capital punishment to resurface, but no drastic changes to the system will be made.
I have trouble making my decision regarding the controversial issue because I understand both sides of the argument, but I firmly believe that citizens should take responsibility for their own opinion.