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Arizona’s death row inmates don’t deserve ‘cruel’ executions

Clearly, there has to be a better method to execute prisoners.

Under no circumstances should the execution process take two hours.

But for Joseph Wood it did.

Make no mistake: Joseph Wood was a horrible person. He shot and killed both his girlfriend and her father in 1989, and he wasn’t remorseful.

Here’s how the Associated Press described his murders:

On the day of the shooting, Wood went to the auto shop and waited for Dietz’s father, who disapproved of his daughter’s relationship with Wood, to get off the phone. Once the father hung up, Wood pulled out a revolver, shot him in the chest and then smiled.

Wood then turned his attention toward Debra Dietz, who was trying to telephone for help. Wood grabbed her by the neck and put his gun to her chest. She pleaded with him to spare her life. An employee heard Wood say, “I told you I was going to do it, I have to kill you.” He then called her an expletive and fired two shots in her chest.

As deplorable as Wood’s crimes were, he didn’t deserve to lay on a table for almost two full hours “gasping” or “snoring” until the lethal injection drugs killed him.

No one does, especially when a state, including Arizona, acts as the executioner.

Methods of execution should be quick and simple. Lately, lethal injection methods have been anything but that. A few months ago, it took an Ohio inmate over 26 minutes to die. In Oklahoma, an inmate suffered a heart attack after being administered a combination of drugs. Now, Wood’s much debated, controversial case adds to the mix.

Over the past few days, his execution has been stayed and then reinstated twice. First, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stopped Wood’s execution ruling that he has a right to know what combination of drugs were being used to execute him and that he also had a right to know who would be administering the lethal cocktail. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court overturned that stay.

Then on Wednesday, Wood’s attorneys took their case to the Arizona Supreme Court, again arguing for transparency regarding the execution drugs. Ironically, his attorneys also said Woods didn’t have proper legal representation. Arizona’s top court initially put the execution on hold until they heard the arguments. Once they did, Woods’ execution was back on — which took two hours.

No state should experiment with lethal injection drugs while they try to figure out what the right lethal combination is. It’s cruel. Something the 8th Amendment forbids, even for prisoners like Woods.

Perhaps the Chief Judge of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Alex Kozinski, is right: It’s time to bring back the firing squad. It’s simple, it’s easy and seems even less cruel than the current methods of lethal injection.

It’s also the type of execution method the state of Arizona would get right.