Arizona Corrections Officials Routinely Deviate From Execution Rules


Arizona corrections officials and medical staff members routinely deviate from the state's written rules for conducting executions, the New York Times reports. Sometimes they improvise even while a convict is strapped to a table waiting for the drugs coursing through his veins to take effect. In a 2010 execution, the presiding doctor was supposed to connect the intravenous line to the convict's arm, a procedure written into the state's lethal injection protocol. Instead he chose to use a vein in an upper thigh, near the groin. He received $5,000 to $6,000 per day in cash, with two days for practice before each execution.

In 2012, when Arizona was scheduled to execute two convicted murderers, its corrections department discovered at the last minute that the expiration dates for the drugs it was planning to use had passed, so it decided to switch drug methods. Last month, Arizona again deviated from its execution protocol, and things did not go as planned: The convicted murderer Joseph Wood took nearly two hours to die, during which he received 13 more doses of lethal drugs than the two doses set out by the state's rules. Douglas Berman, a Ohio State University expert on sentencing, said corrections officials tended to have a cavalier attitude that might now be backfiring on them.

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