Oh once again I had a remarkable reception and great time in Choctaw Nation! This time with the Pittsburgh Co. Child Abuse Task Force hosting a conference for those who work with children and adults all over the place, in the darkest of times, that hardest of situations and seeing the worst of the worst as they advocate for the children attempting to keep them from harm. OR as they remove them from harms way….
Where I spoke was also a stone’s throw from the State Prison that has today made the news across our Nation! I had several conversations while in “Big Mac” about that prison; maximum security, where the death penalty is carried out, where to escape those 4 sided sharp razor steel coils that appear as barbed wire would take some doing.
Where I spoke to some awesome folks was also the place that an intertribal Pow Wow was held the very next day. Oh my goodness… was I blessed, but interestingly once again I heard about the prison!
An ominous place, with the cell blocks in the background, the armed guards in the towers, the baddest of the bad inside. Yes, it may look like barbed wire… but it is much more than that and I’m certain that inmates know just how sharp what it is really is.
In talking about this prison, a friend let me know that she has a woman friend who has worked there as a guard since the 70’s. The cell blocks have little window holes just enough that perhaps prisoners can see outside or light can get inside. That prison is known by just about everyone I met on this trip. Some had relations that had served time there, or at the minimum security prison in Steigler.
Imagine my surprise when the news today featured the very same prison that I laid eyes upon and talked about; the inmate that died after execution that seemed to be “botched” by the new cocktail used.
Clayton Lockett, 38, was declared unconscious 10 minutes after the first of the state’s new three-drug lethal injection combination was administered. Three minutes later, though, he began breathing heavily, writhing, clenching his teeth and straining to lift his head off the pillow.
The blinds were eventually lowered to prevent those in the viewing gallery from watching what was happening in the death chamber, and the state’s top prison official eventually called a halt to the proceedings. Lockett died of a heart attack a short time later, the Department of Corrections said. It seems that drug makers who oppose execution have found a way to stop selling to correctional facilities or loop holes that have now made it harder for both the inmate dying and the ones bearing witness to it.
“Tuesday was the first time Oklahoma used the drug midazolam as the first element in its execution drug combination. Other states have used it before; Florida administers 500 milligrams of midazolam as part of its three-drug combination. Oklahoma used 100 milligrams.”
Lockett was a four time felon, a man who shot 19-year-old Stephanie Neiman with a sawed-off shotgun and watched as two accomplices buried her alive in rural Kay County in 1999 after Neiman and a friend arrived at a home the men were robbing. He has been waiting on death row a long time it seems to me, as do most who are placed there.
In McAlester there is another prisoner who was to face execution yesterday but it has been postponed as a result of the drug combo difficulty. An inmate named Warner had been scheduled to be put to death two hours later in the same room and on the same gurney. The 46-year-old was convicted of raping and killing his roommate’s 11-month-old daughter in 1997.
Interestingly, Lockett and Warner had sued the state for refusing to disclose details about the execution drugs, including where Oklahoma obtained them… later the high court dismissed their case and their stay.
So as I reflect upon my time in McAlester OK, or as it is lovingly known as Big Mac or MacTown… I was also quite shocked to read about the very prison I set my own eyes upon just a couple days ago and the happenings there. To think the felons involved are on death row for heinous crimes against children; one 17; one just a baby made me sick in my heart. I can only imagine how those I spoke to at the conference feel.
WE must stop violence against our most precious resources; our children.
After attending the Pow Wow and seeing the children there dance, seeing the tenderness shown by Mothers/Fathers/Elders/Community; I truly believe that ALL children should be exposed to dance as an outlet of creativity, of oneness with spirit, of the Universal Connection to Creator and to community.
Much to think about; whether you are opposed to the death penalty or for it, or neutral in your stance. It is just ironic that today’s news would let us know of the same place I heard so many stories of just 48 hours ago along with the crimes of those involved.
The question of the day?
Whatever has happened to swift justice? Sitting with three hots and a cot all those years at tax payer’s expenses, working out, enjoying television, playing cards, getting “buff” while a 17 year old was shot and buried alive, and a baby was abused and killed leaving families behind to mourn with a community.
Just a question, perhaps it is rhetorical.
Have a most joyous week:
Thank YOU all in McAlester OK for your hospitality and treating me as family, I look forward to returning.
Walk in beauty,