Clayton Lockett, Medical Experimentation in the Prison Industrial Complex, and the Question of Capital Punishment

Clayton Lockett, Medical Experimentation in the Prison Industrial Complex, and the Question of Capital Punishment

It was hard to choose a link for this story, given that it is all over mainstream and independent news outlets. I went with The Guardian because (a) it provided detailed description and (b) they are based outside of the U.S. and have a bit more critical distance.

This is a sad case and I think it is in need of very little critical exegesis — and, certainly, I don’t want to be disrespectful, turning one man’s death into a simple teaching lesson or an example, especially given the privilege that I would be exercising and advertising in doing so.

Instead, I’ll say only a little: This execution, with all of its political intrigues and medical secrecy, fits shockingly neatly in a long history of biomedical experimentation (particularly on black bodies), especially within the prison system (for more on this you might consider: Allen Hornblum’s Acres of Skin (cheap on amazon: http://amzn.to/R1n2GD) or Harriet A. Washington’s Medical Apartheid (also very affordable on amazon: http://amzn.to/1fugZ8Q).

Lockett’s inhumane execution may lead to revision and review of Capital Punishment in the U.S. — one can only hope — but public outcry has to call the state to accountability.

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