The Arizona Republic features takes by several columnists. First, "The real reason to abolish the death penalty," by Robert Robb.
The botched execution of Joseph Wood will breathe some life, at least temporarily, into the discussion of the death penalty in Arizona.
I suppose that's beneficial, although misdirected. The inefficiency of executions, although gripping and troubling, isn't the problem with the death penalty. And presumably, it's fixable.
The real problem with the death penalty is that it's an act of collective hubris.
EJ Montini writes, "Execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood was NOT botched."
The hand wringing that has followed is not for Wood.
It's for us.
We pretend to have concern for the murderer, that we want our state-sponsored killing to be humane, to be civilized – as if such a thing is possible.
But we don't want such things for the murderer. We want them for ourselves. We want the killing to be swift and "peaceful" so that killing a person doesn't upset us.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jay Bookman writes, "Yes, it's time to abolish the death penalty."
The Wood case is just another example of why the problems inherent in the death penalty far outweigh its supposed benefits. There is no evidence, for example, that it serves as any sort of deterrence. Most people who commit murder either don't intend to get caught or they don't care if they're caught. Many are not bright enough or undamaged enough to think through consequences. Their future horizon is measured in minutes, not days or months or years.
The Greensboro News-Record posts editorial writer Doug Clark's "Death penalty Plan B needed."
"I wondered if there were a Plan B, some other dose of drugs, something to speed up the death. Or someone to stop it" -- Arizona Republic reporter Michael Kiefer, who witnessed yesterday's two-hour execution.
You wonder what else can go wrong. What other ways will states find to make a mess of killing someone? When will North Carolina get back in the game and take its own shot at execution notoriety with Ohio, Oklahoma and now Arizona?
"It's Time for a Nationwide Moratorium on the Death Penalty," is by Brian Stull at HuffPost. He's an attorney with the ACLU Capital Punishment Project.
Lethal injection is not modern medicine. Executioners do not have proper training, leading to some prisoners being conscious but paralyzed as they slowly asphyxiate. States are fumbling to find drugs, concocting different combinations every time. In the case of Mr. Wood's execution, the state used a two-drug combination that had been used only once before, when the state of Ohio took 25 minutes to kill Dennis McGuire.
And these killing experiments are being carried out in secrecy. The hours before Mr. Woods was strapped to the gurney were a frenzied attempt to figure out where the drugs came from before they could be shot into his vein. We still don't know.
The greater problem underlying the horrific executions we have recently seen is not lethal injection or a matter of simply getting the drugs right. The execution of the innocent, the shameful role of race, mentally ill defendants, poor defense lawyering, and prosecutors who hide the truth -- these are the problems that make the death penalty completely inappropriate in the modern world. Yet we continue to slowly pick off killing methods that are simply too barbaric to condone, but the truth is that there is no way for states -- for our government -- to kill someone that is in line with the type of country we want to be.
Slate posts, "Arizona’s Botched Execution," by Dahlia Lithwick.
On Wednesday afternoon, in a ritual that has become increasingly—indeed almost numbingly—familiar, the state of Arizona administered a secret drug protocol that took almost two hours to kill a man. Joseph R. Wood III was sentenced to death in 1991 for shooting and killing his ex-girlfriend Debra Dietz and her father, Eugene. The murder was gruesome, and Wood was guilty. He shot his victims in the chest at close range. The only question that remains, as yet another state botches yet another execution, is whether the two hours of gasping and snorting by the accused before he finally died is excessive, or whether it sounds about right to us.
Additional commentary includes:
"Put the horror of executions on public view," by Tony Norman for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The New Olreans Times-Picayune posts, "If we banned executions, we couldn't botch them," by Jarvis DeBerry.
"The Long Arizona Execution Was Lawful Because The Law is Flawed," by Natasha Lennard at Vice.
Earlier coverage of Arizona's botched execution begins with the preceding post.