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Jul 25 2014

The Death Penalty: When Do We End State Sponsored Barbarism?

In the barbaric custom of using secret drugs to execute prisoners, the state of Arizona botched another state sponsored murder taking nearly two hours for convicted murder Joseph R. Wood III to die.

In another unexpectedly prolonged execution using disputed lethal injection drugs, a condemned Arizona prisoner on Wednesday repeatedly gasped for one hour and 40 minutes, according to witnesses, before dying at an Arizona state prison.

At 1:52 p.m. Wednesday, one day after the United States Supreme Court overturned a stay of execution granted by a federal appeals court last Saturday, the execution of Joseph R. Wood III commenced.

But what would normally be a 10- to 15-minute procedure dragged on for nearly two hours, as Mr. Wood appeared repeatedly to gasp, according to witnesses including reporters and one of his federal defenders, Dale Baich. [..]

Arizona officials said they were using the same sedative that was used in Oklahoma, midazolam, together with a different second drug, hydromorphone, a combination that has been used previously in Ohio. Similar problems were reported in the execution in Ohio in January of Dennis McGuire, using the same two drugs. He reportedly gasped as the procedure took longer than expected.

Capital punishment by lethal injection has been thrown into turmoil as the supplies of traditionally used barbiturates have dried up, in part because companies are unwilling to manufacture and sell them for this purpose.

A court order was issued to preserve Mr. Wood’s body and anything that was used during the execution. The medical examiner was also ordered to take blood and tissue samples by 11 PM last night but he refused to comply with the deadline.

While Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) has ordered the State Department of Corrections to review the execution, Mr. Wood’s attorneys have called for an independent inquiry:

“There has to be a thorough and independent review of what happened here and the Arizona execution protocol,” Dale Baich, a member of Wood’s legal team, told the Guardian.

Wood’s death reignites controversies about state secrecy and the suitability of drugs used to execute prisoners. It was the third time this year that a lethal injection procedure has gone wrong, following problems in Ohio and Oklahoma.  [..]

“We were concerned that the mixture of midazolam and hydromorphone had only been used in one prior execution and that did not turn out well, so we were very concerned about that and that’s why we asked as one of our requests: how did the state come up with the formula that it was using?” Baich said.

This is an experiment by people who have no clue about what they are doing and is barbaric. It just needs to stop.

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