execution in Arizona is effectively pending Governor Katie Hobbs (Pictured) Orders review of state execution process after three failed executions in 2022 Attorney General Chris Mays
filed a motion to drop the state’s only pending death warrant request. Two state officials elected in November’s midterm elections against opponents who falsely claimed the 2020 presidential election was stolen said their actions demanded greater transparency in the state’s use of the death penalty. and help ensure accountability.
In an executive order issued on January 20, 2023, Gov. Hobbs said he would appoint an “independent review board of capital punishment to review and provide transparency.” [Arizona Department of Correction, Rehabilitation & Reentry’s (ADCRR)] Procurement processes, execution protocols and staffing considerations for lethal injection drugs and gas chamber chemicals.
Arizona will resume executions in 2022 after an eight-year hiatus. The execution of Joseph Wood on July 23, 2014 was unsuccessful and took nearly two hours. Witnesses report that Wood gasped and snorted more than 600 times of him. When Arizona officials try to resume the execution, they spent his $1.5 million to obtain the lethal injection. Meanwhile, ADRR was scorned by federal judges for failing to remedy inhumane prison conditions and provide basic nutritional needs for inmates in solitary confinement. The ADCRR also refurbished the gas chambers and used them to execute prisoners with cyanide gas, the same gas the Nazis used to murder his over one million men, women and children during the Holocaust. He spent over $2,000 to get the materials. After replacing the 70-year-old gas chamber’s seals and gaskets, the correction staff tested the tightness of the gas chamber by slowly passing a candle flame near the room’s seal.
In April 2021, then-Attorney General Mark Brnovich sought a death warrant. Clarence Dixon When Frank Atwood It also asked the Arizona Supreme Court to expedite the filing deadline so the court could consider a prisoner’s challenge to Arizona’s lethal injection protocol. The court dismissed the claim after he learned that the drug would actually expire in 45 days. Then, in 2022, he was issued death warrants for three prisoners, but the ADCRR made him void all three. Reporters and defense attorneys have criticized the state’s secrecy policy for contributing to problems in the executions of Clarence Dixon, Frank Atwood, and Murray Hopper.
The governor’s executive order states, “Arizona has a history of executions that have created serious problems with ADCRR’s execution protocols and lack of transparency,” and “to ensure that future executions do not repeat these problems.” A comprehensive and independent review” is needed to ensure ”
Hobbs’ order requires that independent reviewers “must not be currently or previously employed by the ADCRR and must have experience with the death penalty or lethal injection issues.” “With the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, and Reentry under new leadership, it’s time to address the fact that this is a system that in many ways needs better oversight. ”
Attorney General Chris Mays praised Hobbes for ordering the appointment of an independent commissioner. “When Arizona executes individuals, it should have a system that is implemented in a manner that is transparent, accountable, and loyal to the Constitution and the rule of law,” Mays said. “I look forward to working with the governor, newly established commissioners, and others to ensure public confidence in Arizona’s death penalty.”
Mays says he will not seek an execution date while the new commissioner reviews the state’s death penalty process, urging Arizona to withdraw a motion filed by his predecessor to set an execution date for Aaron Ganchez. In her complaint, she said prosecutors had asked for an execution date after Ganchez demanded the execution, and that Ganche withdrew his request after learning of the state’s failed execution. I wrote that I asked for it.[B]A thorough investigation into executions in Arizona would be justified before further warrants are sought, Mays wrote.
Dale Beich, who taught capital punishment law at Arizona State University and was formerly head of the Arizona Federal Advocate’s Capital Habeas Corps Division, told The Associated Press. The Department of Corrections, Governors and Attorneys General (in past administrations) have ignored the issue and refused to consider it carefully. Governor Hobbs and Attorney General Mays should be commended for taking this issue seriously. ”
Arizona’s three 2022 executions are one of seven visibly problematic executions. Of his 20 executions in the United States in 2022, more than a third (35%) failed. In Dixon’s execution, prison guards spent his 25 minutes unsuccessfully placing an IV line in his arm, then performed a bloody and unauthorized “cut-down” procedure to force the line into his groin vein. inserted into thewhy Arizona Republic Reporter Jimmy Jenkins called it a “surreal sight.” Atwood helped prison guards find a suitable vein for an IV line during his execution. Jenkins wrote: . Nervous hands trying to find veins and sweaty faces. Needles that pierce the skin; liquid medicine that floods and drowns human beings. After asking why the execution team was taking so long to set the IV line, Hooper reportedly turned to the witness and asked, “Can you believe this?” The executioner eventually resorted to inserting an IV into Hooper’s femoral vein in the groin.
Arizona joins Alabama, Ohio and Tennessee in suspending executions over drug injection problems.