Capital punishment is available as a possible punishment for certain crimes both on the federal level, and in 27 of the 50 states. Challenges to death penalty legislation have been going on for decades.
In the early 1960’s, it was suggested by some that the death penalty constituted “cruel and unusual punishment,” in violation of the prohibition contained in the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. While various challenges along those lines have been around for decades, largely centered around fact that persons have been wrongfully convicted and then executed, the argument has not won out, at least as far as federal law and many states are concerned. On the other hand, botched executions have become commonplace.
In Arizona, there were three executions last year, each of which led to problems, including one that took nearly two hours, with the prisoner gasping for air at least 600 times; another involved the attempted use of expired lethal injection drugs.
In the face of these problems, along which what has been described as a “lack of transparency,” newly elected Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs has chosen a former federal magistrate, Judge Davis Duncan, to lead the state’s Death Penalty Independent Review Committee. The Committee is charged with the task of reviewing what the Governor described as a “history of mismanaged executions.”
For the time being, the Governor has placed executions in Arizona on hold, and Attorney General Kris Mayes has filed an application to withdraw Arizona’s only pending request for a death warrant.
We are hopeful that the commission will shed light on at least some of the problems with Arizona’s application of the death penalty.
Law Offices of David A. Black
40 North Central Avenue #1850
Phoenix, AZ 85004