The Arizona Department of Corrections is trying a new approach to getting the drugs needed to carry out executions.
Wood Execution To Be Reviewed
Governor Jan Brewer ordered a review of the state’s execution process after what some are saying was a botched execution Wednesday. The Death Penalty Information Center said nationwide 26 people have been put to death by lethal injection this year. Officials have encountered problems in at least three of those.
From start to finish, Joseph Wood’s execution took nearly two hours. Some witnesses reported he gasped for air and struggled during that time before he died.
Governor Jan Brewer said in a statement he died in a lawful manner and did not suffer. But she also ordered the Department of Corrections to review the execution process. Wood’s attorney Dale Baich said for the review to be fair it needs to be done by a third party.
“Public officials have already made statements that show that they are bias about what occurred yesterday," Baich said. "So we have to make sure that that investigation is independent."
Baich filed a federal lawsuit in June on behalf of six death row inmates including Wood. The lawsuit claims Arizona’s refusal to release information violates the inmates’ First Amendment rights. He said the lawsuit will continue. But Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan said the execution was not botched.
“There is no medical or forensic evidence to date that supports that conclusion. In fact the evidence gathered thus far supports the opposite,” said Ryan.
Ryan said execution warrants in Arizona are on hold until the review is completed. There are no executions scheduled, according to the Department of Corrections. Investigations in three other states have also resulted in temporarily suspending executions.