The Arizona Attorney General’s office has announced it will not issue any warrants of execution until authorities finish reviewing why it took nearly two hours to kill a convicted double-murderer by lethal injection using a controversial drug combination.
The uproar describing the execution as “botched” and “inhumane,” is a good time to consider our state’s position on capital punishment.
The answer should not be to search for a more “humane” way to kill a person.
Joseph Rudolph Wood III was executed for killing Debra Dietz and her father Eugene in Tucson in 1989. He had to be made to pay for his horrendous crime.
Life in prison with no possibility of parole would have accomplished that.
On Wednesday afternoon Wood was injected with hydromorphone, which suppresses breathing, and the sedative midazolam.
Executions by lethal injection usually take about 10 to 15 minutes. Wood spent almost two hours methodically sucking in air, more than 640 times by the count of one witness, before he finally died.
The investigation will look into the process. State officials have said the execution was not flawed, and that Wood did not feel pain.
This isn’t the first time this drug combination has not acted as expected. In January the combination was used in an Ohio execution where the condemned man snorted, made choking sounds, gasped and moved as it took 25 minutes between injection and death.
Making execution physically painless for the condemned, visually uneventful for the witnesses and antiseptic in concept does not change what it is: the state taking a human life.
Studies on the death penalty have found that it is not a deterrent, death penalty cases are more expensive those with a sentence of life in prison without parole, that it is applied arbitrarily, it affects minorities in far greater numbers than whites, and — most seriously — innocent people have been killed.
Arizona should put a stay on all executions.