[JURIST] US President Barack Obama [official website] stated [text] at a news conference on Friday that he will ask Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] to investigate problems with the application of the death penalty. The statement comes after the recent botched execution [JURIST report] of Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett, which President Obama called "deeply troubling." Although he stated that there are circumstances in which he believes the death penalty is warranted, such as mass murder and the murder of children, President Obama expressed concern over racial bias and uneven application of the death penalty. "I think we do have to, as a society, ask ourselves some difficult and profound questions around these issues," the president said. The United States has one of the highest execution rates in the world, having executed [Guardian report] 39 people in 2013.
In April, the Supreme Court of Oklahoma [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that inmates' constitutional rights were not violated by keeping the sources of lethal injection drugs secret. Earlier that month, a federal judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Missouri [official website] allowed the continuation [JURIST report] of a lawsuit challenging a bill that would conceal the identities of individuals involved in the administration of the death penalty. A federal judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma [official website] issued a temporary restraining order [JURIST report] in February, enjoining a pharmacy from providing a lethal injection drug to the Missouri Department of Corrections [official website]. North Carolina in June 2013 repealed a law [JURIST report] allowing minority inmates on death row to seek a reduced sentence.