Botched Arizona Execution Raises New Questions

Shutterstock

Arizona inmate Joseph Rudolph Wood was executed on Wednesday, but like another similar incident from earlier this year, things did not go according to plan. Wood's death by lethal injection took almost two hours. During that time, witnesses say he gasped and snorted continuously before being pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m., exactly one hour and 57 minutes after the execution began.

This incident comes several months after the execution of Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett, who actually died of a heart attack after his failed injection. Wood was convicted of brutally shooting and killing two people in 1989. 

Halfway through the execution, Wood's lawyers filed an emergency appeal in federal court, asking to stop it mid-process. In their appeal, they wrote he was "gasping and snorting for more than an hour." One hour and ten minutes in, Wood was still breathing, and very much alive. His defense attorney, Dale Baich, said the execution should have taken ten minutes. Michael Kiefer, an Arizona Republic reporter who saw the execution said, "I counted about 660 times he gasped." Another witness said Wood was like "fish on shore gulping for air.

This botched execution will add to already lingering questions over exactly drugs states are using in their lethal injections, and whether the process violates prisoners' rights. Currently, states are able to withhold this drug information, in order to prevent harassment of the pharmacies involved in supplying the drugs. Wood filed an appeal, based on the unknown details of the injection. However, it was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court. There have been several other instances in recent years of lethal injections being poorly administered, causing inmates to have their executions prolonged.

Arizona's Attorney General's Office also got Wood's name wrong on the press release about his execution. They sent the following:

PHOENIX, AZ (Wednesday, July 23, 2014) – After several days of legal maneuvering, Attorney General Tom Horne is announcing the execution of 55-year-old, Robert G. Jones, ADC #086279. The execution commenced at 1:52 p.m. at the Arizona State Prison Complex (ASPC)-Florence. He was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m.

However, Robert G. Jones is an inmate who was executed in 2013. Later, they sent a corrected press release. 

(Image via Janece Flippo/Shutterstock.com)

NEWSLETTER

Get daily news from Route Fifty

Top stories on how innovation is driving smarter government across the country.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.