Arizona Republic Column: 'Death' of Death Penalty Should Begin in AZ

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COURTESY OF OK.GOV
  • Courtesy of OK.gov

Last night, CBS's 60 Minutes discussed Arizona's "botched" July 2014 execution of Joseph Wood, a convicted murderer who took nearly two hours and 15 doses of a lethal drug cocktail to die. The disturbing episode triggered change in the state's execution protocol, including switching which drugs are used.

The segment on 60 Minutes left The Arizona Republic's EJ Montini to wonder, when will the death penalty be abolished in the United States? Arizona's "unethical, possibly illegal purchase of execution drugs from oversees, along with the state's grotesque determination to use those drugs to kill death row inmates, and then botching one attempt," could mark that end. Actually, it should mark the beginning of the end, Montini says in an opinion piece published this morning

Here's part of it:

It speaks to everything that is wrong with capital punishment as it is applied in states like ours, where justice has been supplemented by a monstrously surreal bloodlust and the inability to treat execution for the savagery that it is.

...

This is not to say that Wood was innocent. Just the opposite.

He was a cold-blooded killer. In 1989 he hunted down and shot to death his former girlfriend, Debra Dietz, and her father, Eugene Dietz. He was convicted of the crime. The citizens of the state of Arizona decided to kill him.

And we did.

Only in trying to execute Wood in a "humane" way, as if such a thing is possible, we did just the opposite.

The CBS reporter spoke to Kiefer as well as to Dale Baich, one of Wood's attorneys, who said, "I’ve witnessed a number of executions before and I’ve never seen anything like this."

He also spoke with Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who came off like a lame apologist for the state's clumsy, unethical, possibly illegal effort to get the death penalty drugs under Gov. Jan Brewer's administration. Brnovich also sounded like a pro-death penalty blowhard hoping to impress conservative voters.

In the end, the person who made the most sense in the CBS report was Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Kozinski's court has been in the forefront of the legal battle over all of this and he has spoken boldly and bluntly about it.

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