The revelation that condemned Arizona prisoners can provide the lethal drugs to be used in their executions has raised questions about the state’s rules for the death penalty, the Associated Press reports. The novel policy has drawn sneers from defense attorneys who were puzzled as to why the state would think that they would assist in killing their clients. It has inspired wisecracks about Arizona’s envelope-pushing criminal justice policies and left some readers on social media asking whether the bring-your-own-drugs policy was the product of a news parody website.
Criminal defense lawyers and death penalty experts say they have never heard of a state suggesting that condemned inmates can line up drugs to be used in their executions. However unlikely it is that any of Arizona’s 119 death-row inmates will take up the offer, the change is a reflection of the difficulties that Arizona and other states faces in finding execution drugs now that European pharmaceutical companies have blocked the use of their products for lethal injections. Executions in Arizona have been on hold since the 2014 death of convicted killer Joseph Rudolph Wood, who was given 15 doses of the sedative midazolam and a painkiller. It took nearly two hours for him to die. The state will not be able to carry out executions until the resolution of a lawsuit that alleges Arizona has abused its discretion in the methods and amounts of drugs used in past executions. The state hasn’t publicly explained the aim of the policy on inmates’ providing their own drugs, which surfaced last month in the lawsuit.