Today's New York Times reports, "Arizona Loose With Its Rules in Executions, Records Show," by Fernanda Santos and John Schwartz. There is an infographic at the link. Here's the beginning of the must-read:
In an execution in 2010 in Arizona, the presiding doctor was supposed to connect the intravenous line to the convict’s arm — a procedure written into the state’s lethal injection protocol and considered by many doctors as the easiest and best way to attach a line. Instead he chose to use a vein in an upper thigh, near the groin.
“It’s my preference,” the doctor said later in a deposition, testifying anonymously because of his role as a five-time executioner. For his work, he received $5,000 to $6,000 per day — in cash — with two days for practice before each execution.
That improvisation is not unusual for Arizona, where corrections officials and medical staff members routinely deviate from the state’s written rules for conducting executions, state records and court filings show. Sometimes they improvise even while a convict is strapped to a table in the execution chamber and waiting for the drugs coursing through his veins to take effect.
In 2012, when Arizona was scheduled to execute two convicted murderers, its Corrections Department discovered at the last minute that the expiration dates for the drugs it was planning to use had passed, so it decided to switch drug methods. Last month, Arizona again deviated from its execution protocol, and things did not go as planned: The convicted murderer Joseph R. Wood III took nearly two hours to die, during which he received 13 more doses of lethal drugs than the two doses set out by the state’s rules.
While it is unclear whether the constant changes have led to cruel and unusual punishment, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit became so disturbed in 2012 about the expired drugs that it chastised the state, saying Arizona “has insisted on amending its execution protocol on an ad hoc basis.” While the court permitted the two executions to proceed and they went off without a hitch, the Ninth Circuit nonetheless observed that Arizona had a “rolling protocol that forces us to engage with serious constitutional questions and complicated factual issues in the waning hours before executions.”
The Times also has a link to, "Court Filings From Arizona Prisoners’ Lawsuit."
"Excerpts From Arizona Doctor’s Deposition on Executions," has just been posted. It will appear in tomorrow's print edition of the Times.
Following are excerpts from a deposition on Oct. 21, 2011, by an Arizona doctor who attended five executions as a “medical team leader” that sheds light on a process that is rarely presented in detail. The executions were between October 2010 and July 2011.
Aside from providing the official protocol for executions, most states do not disclose what happens in the execution chamber. The doctor, whose name was withheld in publicly available versions of the resulting 300-page document, answered questions from 8:36 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., and discussed execution methods, training and even the payment for his efforts.
At the end of the long and sometimes contentious session, the doctor surprised his questioners by announcing that he would no longer participate in executions in the state — not because he had criticism for or qualms about execution, but “because this process is very unpleasant, and it’s not really anything that I care to go through again.”
Earlier coverage of Arizona's botched execution begins at the link.