Jurist posts, "Botched executions & evolving standards of decency: What can we learn from Wood's death?" It's by Sacha Baniel-Stark, a student at New York University School of Law.
The botched execution of Wood joined the botched execution in Ohio and two botched executions in Oklahoma to become at least the fourth botched execution so far this calendar year. All four have raised questions about the efficacy of lethal injection protocols; the manner of execution is often kept confidential and approved drugs are quickly expiring, raising significant concerns about what drugs are being used and how states are getting them. (For a recap of some of these issues, see Kimberly Newberry's June 2014 JURIST piece.)
Wood's case, however, has created some unique waves, even in this fraught area of law. Before his execution, Wood moved to stay the execution, arguing that he and others had a First Amendment right to know the protocol that would be used to kill him. The motion was ultimately denied, but along the way Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, had occasion to weigh in on the issues (PDF) that are plaguing the system today.
Judge Kozinski's opinion, a dissent from the denial of en banc review of Wood's motion to stay his execution, argued that capital punishment by lethal injection is fundamentally flawed and that we as a society ought to return to execution by firing squad. Judge Kozinski's argument has three main reasons for this: First, "attacks" to executions will continue so long as lethal injection is used because of the secrecy surrounding drugs and execution protocols. Second, lethal injections are less effective than other, more seemingly primitive methods; Judge Kozinski favors the guillotine and death by firing squad, ultimately concluding the latter is favored because it is 'foolproof' but would still be relatively socially acceptable. Third, Judge Kozinski argued that if we are to put people to death—and it is a "we," for criminal prosecutions are done in the name of the people and criminal punishments are authorized on our behalf—we should do so without allowing ourselves to fall victim to the charade that executions are calm and dignified events. As he stated, "if we are willing to carry out executions, we should not shield ourselves from the reality that we are shedding human blood."
Earlier coverage of Arizona's botched execution begins at the link.