But Clarks was no ordinary execution. The procedure began at 10 AM. The protocol calls for two intravenous lines, one primary and one back-up. It took 22 minutes for the technicians to find one good site. Apparently deciding that one vein was close enough, the technicians forged ahead, committed to the grim task. The chemicals of death began to flow.
After three or four minutes, Clark raised his head and exclaimed, It dont work! Officials quickly closed the curtain between the death chamber and the witnesses, apparently sensitive to the difference between killing a man and looking inept while doing it.
Fifty minutes later the technicians found another injection site. They reopened the curtain, and proceeded with the execution. Clark was pronounced dead at 11:26 AM.
Prison officials did not fault themselves, despite violating their own two-IV protocol. Prisons Director Terry Collins said, The team here is a very professional team. Theyre doing a very, very difficult job under difficult circumstances. That may be true too, but on Tuesday, the team did its job very, very badly.
In the largest sense, though, the fault was neither Clarks nor the states. The fault rests with us, the people. We allow states to kill our fellow human beings in our names; indeed, we often require it. But this is conduct unworthy of a great people. How can we Americans, champions of human rights, countenance such barbarism? What will it take for us to rise above it?
Despite the evidence, we persist with the vindictive and short-sighted view that capital punishment accomplishes something more than retribution. It doesnt.
Joseph Clark said as much himself: It dont work.