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Prison rights leader blasts Gov. Brewer over execution investigation

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is drawing some criticism over Wednesday’s execution of a death row inmate at the Arizona State Prison in Florence.

The execution of convicted murderer Joseph Wood took more than two hours to complete, and has resulted in renewed controversy of the use of lethal injections.

Donna Leone Hamm of the prison rights group Middle Ground said that the length of time it took Wood to die was unusual. During an appearance on News/Talk 92.3 KTAR’s Arizona’s Morning News Weekend, Hamm criticized Brewer for the way she’s handling the situation.

“The governor came out and said she was calling for a full investigation,” Hamm said. “But then she appointed the corrections director to investigate his own department. We can pretty much ascertain how independent that investigation is going to be.

“Secondly, she made a determination based on witness statements that said he didn’t suffer — that he was just snoring.”

Hamm noted that a reporter who witnessed the execution claims that Wood was actually gasping, and did so more than 600 times. According to Hamm, Brewer has seemingly concluded, without considering scientific evidence, that the execution was legal and that Wood didn’t suffer.

The prison rights leader is calling for an independent investigation.