660 Gasps for Breath, Then Death

We still don't know where the drugs came from.

We know they used midazolam and hydromorphone. We know the combination was experimental. And now we know that instead of working, the drugs took nearly two hours to kill Joseph Wood, as he snorted and gasped for air 660 times.

Within a couple hours of Mr. Wood's death, the state of Arizona started damage control. Last night, Governor Jan Brewer called for an investigation into why the execution had taken so long, but she also released a statement saying: "by eyewitness and medical accounts he did not suffer."

That's not what the reporters who were in the room have written. "It was very disturbing to watch... liked a fish on shore gulping for air," Troy Hayden told The Arizona Republic.

One hour and 57 minutes is horrifically long, even when compared to the recent botched execution of Clayton Lockett, who writhed in pain for 45 minutes while the state of Oklahoma struggled to kill him in May.

It's time to ask the question: How is it possible that, in 2014, state after state is utterly failing at lethal injection? How can it be, given modern medicine, that it could take hours instead of minutes for states to kill someone?

The answer is that the death penalty simply has no place in this country. As method after method of state-sponsored killing has been deemed barbaric and archaic, states are left scrambling to invent new ways to execute.

Lethal injection started as a seemingly more humane alternative to the gas chamber, the electric chair, and firing squads. But as companies both in the U.S. and in Europe have refused to let the drugs they produce be used in executions, lethal injection has become what is essentially medical experimentation, with novel drugs and doses leading to botched execution after botched execution.

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.

Today, my heart is with Jeanne Brown and all of those who loved Debra Dietz. My thoughts are with the executioners who will have to live with the horrific botch they carried out yesterday. This entire story is a tragic one, and it should push us to admit that the path to justice simply cannot include more gruesome violence.

It's time for a nationwide moratorium on the death penalty.

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Anonymous

I LOVE IT WHEN CRY BABY LIBERALS DONT GET THEIR WAY. CONGRATULATION ARIZONA. GOOD JOB. DONT GIVE IN TO THIS BLEEDING HEARTS.

MAYBE WE SHOULD BRING BACK THE GAS CHAMBER, HANGING, ELECTRIC CHAIR AND THE FIRING SQUAD.

ISNT IT A SHAME THAT LIBERALS HATE AMERICA AND WANT TO DESTROY IT.

PRINT THIS AMERICAN CRIMINAL LIBERTIES UNION BUT YOU WILL NOT BECAUSE YOUR COWARDS.

Anonymous

That still DOESN'T mean he was aware he did. General anesthesia makes an almost damning argument AGAINST everything you people try to claim. General anesthesia was specifically designed to cut off all sensation and awareness of physical pain.
Until somebody explains to me how that can be overruled, I'm going to remain a skeptic.
I'm a paramedic and EKG Technician, who used to be an Operating Room technician, OR Tech. You're going to have to get a professional to explain to me how the world the workings of general anesthesia is going to be overwhelmed by any drug made to deliberately cause pain. Surgery is controlled trauma and the patient feels nothing while they're being cut open and has no memory of feeling it. Not even in their muscles. It literally paralyzes the part of the brain that processes pain.

Anonymous

It's time to ask the question "Who's telling you this bullsh*t lie that people are feeling pain after being administered general anesthesia."
You refuse to name any medical sources.
I refuse to believe it if you're NOT going to name medical expert sources.

Anonymous

Imagine the last gasps of his victims.

Shaky Jake

It wasn't "Botched"! He was supposed to die and he did. How many years did he live on death row before we finally executed him? Too long!

No one says anything about the horrible things he did to his victims. Why should we show any "mercy" or sympathy for him because HE suffered a little.

What we need to do is eliminate all this "appeal" crap and let's just execute the criminals ASAP after sentencing.

Anonymous

Screw that piece of Sxxt. He didn't show his victims any compassion . The only problem with the death penalty is it's not used enough.

J. Harris

What about the victims of this persons crime? What horrors did they go through? What pain did they feel? How many breaths did they take before they died? Why are we making a Criminal into a Victim that needs to be spared from death? Why should our tax dollars be spent on one such as this to spend the rest of his life in jail? My feeling that if we were to go to Life in Prison for crimes such as this, that the criminal needs to pay for it by somehow do a service for the State. Even then, that won't bring back the lives that he snuffed out of this world.

Anonymous

Oh, ylke how long it took Tom McGinnis and his 68 other colleagues to die in Tower 1? The same people whose murderers you support by giving them the chance to be innocent before guilty? Until they suicide bomb someone and THEN they're guilty along with a whole new CROP OD grieving families?
That Idea is sheer bullshit and makes me sicker than a dog.

Anonymous

State Governments are Killing Americans in prison and its based on a corrupt abusive, and broken legal system . Judges are playing God with peoples lives. Laws made by man kill man and it Violates Constitutional Laws.
One law say one thing and Constitutional Laws are ignored.

Its is cruel and abusive to take revenge on someone using the death penalty concept, thinking it will solve anything except blood revenge.

This country fights wars to free prisoners yet ignors whats going on in their own back yard.

Executions are wrong and solves nothing. The death penalty is being used by crooked judges looking to get re-elected. Two wrongs don't make a right and killing someone for a mistake is wrong.

The State of Arizona is a prime example of run away laws, courts, justices and prison abuse and executions.

The people need to wake up and stop following the Adolph Hitlers guidlines. Stop Killing your own people. The governor of Arizona needs to be held accountable for the latest botched murder event. The country needs to stop killing its own people and follow the US Constitution, not state made up laws.

Executions do nothing. Stop the torture.

Right wing and ...

from Anonymous 1 "I love when crybaby liberals don't get their way...."

from me: And how old are you, 2? Maybe 3? I'm conservative about the death penalty and I think you need to grow up or shut up. If I don't even want to ear you, you can be almost 100% certain nobody on the other side does.

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