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AG Tom Horne discusses Arizona’s execution procedures

PHOENIX — Arizona’s attorney general is weighing in on the state’s execution procedures following the botched execution of an Oklahoma inmate this week.

Following reports that inmate Clayton Lockett’s turbulent execution was the result of a collapsed vein, Attorney General Tom Horne said Arizona’s execution procedures call for veins to be checked before an executioner’s needle is inserted.

“Here in Arizona, we make sure that doesn’t happen because if there is any question about a prisoner’s vein, we use the femoral vein, which is on the thigh,” Horne said. “That’s the way we make sure this kind of thing won’t happen. If there’s any question about the vein, we’re using a much larger vein.”

Reports claim that prison officials could not use a vein in Lockett’s arm because of a wound, and as a result the needle was placed into Lockett’s groin area. The vein then collapsed and the drugs may have entered into his tissue or leaked out of his body, a prison official said in a report.

It the first time a new cocktail of drugs was used by the state to attempt to execute a prisoner, according to CNN.

In Arizona, there are three chemical procedures on the books for use in executions. Two options are single drug protocols using either sodium pentothal or pentobarbital. The final is a concoction of two drugs called midazolam and hydromorphone, according to a March 2014 revision in the Arizona Department of Corrections execution procedures.

Horne said he’s personally witnessed an execution using pentobarbital.

“It was extremely peaceful,” Horne said. “(The prisoner) went to sleep. He was breathing deeply the way you do when you sleep deeply. And then he expired from an overdose (and) so these other two sedatives that we use are basically the same principle.”

According to the Department of Corrections, there are currently 122 inmates on death row in the state, none of which are scheduled for execution at this time. However, Horne’s office did submit a request to the state Supreme Court on Tuesday seeking a date of execution for inmate Joseph Wood, who has been on death row since 1991 for first-degree murder.