There is extensive news and commentary regarding yesterday's botched execution in Arizona. I'll be breaking it out over the next few posts. First, items from today's Arizona Republic.
"A moratorium on the death penalty is needed," is by the Republic's Editorial Board.
The increasingly irrational argument for attempting to humanely put a convict to death has run out the string in Arizona.
It is not humane to leave a human being, however deserving of death, to gasp for air for two hours before dying, as double-murderer Joseph Rudolph Wood did on Wednesday.
A firing squad armed with high-velocity rifles loaded with hollow-point ammunition would be more humane.
That is precisely what U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Alex Kozinski argued in his dissent of an order to stay Wood's execution. The U.S. Supreme Court later overturned the ruling.
Arizona must place a moratorium on any further use of the mysterious chemicals used for executions. Gov. Jan Brewer cannot permit another execution to go forward without solid assurance the death sentence will be carried out within the constraints of the Eighth Amendment — an assurance that Wood's botched execution rationally tells us is a fool's errand.
By trying to pretend we are putting these convicts quietly to "sleep," we have instead fallen into a protocol that assures a lingering horror. If that is not the definition phrase "cruel and unusual punishment," the words have lost all meaning.
Republic columnist Laurie Roberts writes, "Arizona needs a timeout after botched execution." Here is an extended excerpt:
Joseph Rudolph Wood III shot and killed Debra Dietz, and her father, Eugene, on Aug. 7, 1989.
For nearly a quarter of a century that family has suffered.
For 116 minutes this afternoon, Wood suffered.
Suffering, I suppose, is relative.
Still, we're better than this, or we should be. We must be.
Joseph Rudolph Wood III didn't die easily and that blood? Well, it's on our hands.
The public needs to know what happened here. What drugs are we using to kill people and what's the big state secret, if there's not a problem with those drugs?
State officials need to immediately call a halt to all executions until we can be assured that we can kill smoothly and efficiently.
We should at least be as good a killer as Joseph Rudolph Wood III.
While we're waiting, perhaps we should also ponder the value of a penalty that takes 25 years to carry out.
Earlier coverage of Arizona's botched execution begins with the previous post.