FEATURED POST

In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

Image
To cope with his dread, John Kitzhaber opened his leather-bound journal and began to write.
It was a little past 9 on the morning of Nov. 22, 2011. Gary Haugen had dropped his appeals. A Marion County judge had signed the murderer's death warrant, leaving Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, to decide Haugen's fate. The 49-year-old would soon die by lethal injection if the governor didn't intervene.
Kitzhaber was exhausted, having been unable to sleep the night before, but he needed to call the families of Haugen's victims.
"I know my decision will delay the closure they need and deserve," he wrote.
The son of University of Oregon English professors, Kitzhaber began writing each day in his journal in the early 1970s. The practice helped him organize his thoughts and, on that particular morning, gather his courage.
Kitzhaber first dialed the widow of David Polin, an inmate Haugen beat and stabbed to death in 2003 while already serving a life sentence fo…

Arizona faces more difficulty finding execution drugs

The Arizona Department of Corrections again faces a likely shortage of drugs for executions by lethal injection.

All executions have been on hold in Arizona since July 2014, when murderer Joseph Wood was put to death in Florence. Despite warnings by defense attorneys, the Corrections Department used an experimental process using a Valium-like drug called midazolam in combination with a narcotic.

It did not go as planned. The executioner administered 15 times the supposed lethal dose before Wood died. Wood spent nearly two hours gasping and snorting on the execution gurney.

Judge Neil Wake, who has long ruled in favor of the Department of Corrections on execution protocols, afterward placed a moratorium on executions in the state.

On Tuesday, in a status conference in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, Wake said that litigation could go forward on whether to resume executions.

The state had hoped to continue to use the drug midazolam in a different combination. But an Arizona assistant attorney general informed Wake that the state’s supply of that drug has an expiration date of late May, and the Department of Corrections has not yet been able to obtain more from other sources.

The attorneys who brought suit against the state’s lethal injection procedures said that the case and its appeals will not likely be finished by that May expiration date.

After the Wood execution, the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Phoenix brought suit against the state in Wood’s name and on behalf of five death row prisoners facing imminent execution. A law firm from Los Angeles joined the suit, as did the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona, an association of nearly 20 newspapers and broadcast outlets, including The Arizona Republic.

The suit not only seeks to define the parameters of execution in Arizona, but also to provide more access to the media and the public.

Arizona, like most states, strictly guards the identities of its drug sources.

In 2010, The Republic reported that Arizona and other states were illegally importing the standard execution drug, sodium thiopental, from Europe. Since then, pharmaceutical firms, many of which are in Europe, have refused to supply drugs to American prisons for use in executions. Executions are illegal in many European countries, and no one in those countries is allowed to assist in executions elsewhere.


Source: azcentral, Michael Kiefer, January 12, 2016

- Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com - Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

New Hampshire: More than 50,000 anti-death penalty signatures delivered to Sununu

Texas: The accused Santa Fe shooter will never get the death penalty. Here’s why.

Post Mortem – the execution of Edward Earl Johnson

What Indiana officials want to keep secret about executions

Malaysian court sentences Australian grandmother to death by hanging

Ohio: Lawyers seek review of death sentence for 23-year-old Clayton man

China: Appeal of nanny's death penalty sentence wraps up

In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

Texas prisons taking heat over aging execution drugs experts say could cause 'torturous' deaths

Texas executes Juan Castillo