Quantcast
Don't Miss
Home / Capitol Insiders / Arizona execution procedures challenged by First Amendment group

Arizona execution procedures challenged by First Amendment group

Taking a cue from a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge, a First Amendment group is asking a federal judge to let the public view more of an execution than what is permitted.

Dan Barr, an attorney with the Arizona First Amendment Coalition, wrote in a motion to Judge Neil V. Wake that the media and public have a “clearly established” right to view an execution from when the condemned is escorted into the death chamber and hooked  up to intravenous lines. Right now, witnesses only view the portion of the execution from the reading of the death warrant to the inmate being declared dead, a span of about 10 to 15 minutes.

Watching the insertion of the IV lines will allow the public to judge whether there was any pain involved that rises to the level of cruel or unusual punishment, the standard for the procedure being unconstitutional.

Barr wrote that the 9th Circuit has already found in a 2002 California case that the public has a right to see the entire execution.

Ninth Circuit Judge Marsha Berzon lambasted the state for its secrecy surrounding executions in a May 15 decision to not stop the execution of Samuel Lopez, who was scheduled to be executed May 16. The Arizona Supreme Court eventually delayed his execution so three new members of the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency could get the proper training before hearing his plea for mercy.

Berzon criticized the state for having vague and useless logs for the March 8 execution of Robert Towery. Executioners had difficulty in placing the IV lines and took almost an hour and Berzon said there is no indication of how much pain he endured.

Berzon said the state “puts impenetrable roadblocks” in the way of obtaining information about executions and she hinted that someone should bring a First Amendment challenge.

Lopez’ attorneys asked Wake that they be allowed to watch the insertion of the lines in a motion filed May 15, but Barr went a step further by asking for the public to be allowed to view it.

Lopez’s attorneys first asked Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan in a letter to let them view the entire execution, but he refused on the grounds of maintaining the anonymity of the executioners.

Barr said the executioners can simply wear surgical masks to cover their faces.

5 comments

  1. middlegroundprisonreform

    When Don Harding was executed in 1992 in the gas chamber in Arizona, he was wearing only an adult diaper. I was a witness to that execution at the inmate’s request. The DOC claimed that the gases used to kill the prisoner would contaminate any clothing he might wear, “which would be a hazard to employees removing the body.” However, Middle Ground Prison Reform contacted prison authorities in Texas and in other states where — at the time — gas chamber executions were almost “routine.” No such concerns about contaminated clothing existed in Texas or elsewhere. Fully clothed inmates were executed in Texas all the time. Clearly, Arizona prison authorities just wanted to make sure they added that extra touch of humiliation and degredation to an already barbaric procedure.

    Now, Arizona officials claim they can’t show execution procedures (lethal injection) because they have to protect the identity of executioners. The suggestion that executioners can wear masks, gloves, gowns or other “medical” clothing to conceal their identity is a valid one. These employees should have to perform their jobs flawlessly and in open view of the public they serve. And if they want to insure their identity is protected, they could opt not to participate at all.

  2. Middleground, Well said. This barbaric practice of “premeditated murder by the state” should be in full view as well as all the days and weeks of preparation that goes into the “execution/murder”. In a state that believes and legislates “pro-life” than it is all the more important for all the “pro-lifers” to see this barbaric practice that is not done in civilizes nations around the world. Is the state of Arizona civilized? Others states have learned and are abolishing the death penalty. For those who do not care about life or the death penalty but care about their “money” first, then abolishing the death penalty and these barbaric executions would save taxpayers millions upon millions of dollars that could be used for education and health for the people. It’s is time for public view of all that it takes to “execute/murder” a human being by the state or abolish it.

  3. Middleground, Well said. This barbaric practice of “premeditated murder by the state” should be in full view, as well as, all the days and weeks of preparation that goes into the “execution/murder”. In a state that believes in and legislates “pro-life” then it is all the more important for all the “pro-lifers” to see this barbaric practice that is NOT done in civilized nations around the world. Is the state of Arizona civilized?

    For those who care about \money\ first, others states have learned and are abolishing the death penalty and these barbaric executions which would save taxpayers millions upon millions of dollars, that could be used for education and health care for the people.

    It is time for public view of the preparation and all that it takes to “execute / murder” a human being by the state — or simply abolish it. Murders committed by both parties is unacceptable. Life in a Arizona desert prison without parole is a far worse punishment and is a fraction of the cost.

  4. This barbaric practice of premeditated murder by the state should be in full view as well as all the days and weeks of preparation that goes into the execution. In a state that believes and legislates “pro-life” it is all the more important for all the citizens to see this practice which is not done in most civilized first world nations. Is the state of Arizona civilized? Others states have learned and are abolishing the death penalty. For those not concerned about life or the death penalty should look at the financial aspects of capital punishment, abolishing the death penalty would save millions upon millions of dollars that could better be used for many purposes: to hire more police officers – more “boots on the street” will keep us safer than killing someone already incarcerated; monies used for education today will be money not needed to incarcerate later; and, of course, health care for the needy. It’s is time for public view of all that it takes to execute a human being or abolish the practice.

  5. Middleground, Well said. This barbaric practice of “premeditated murder by the state” should be in full view, as well as, all the days and weeks of preparation that goes into the “execution/murder”. In a state that believes in and legislates “pro-life” then it is all the more important for all the “pro-lifers” to see this barbaric practice that is NOT done in civilized nations around the world. Is the state of Arizona civilized?

    For those who care about \money\ first, others states have learned and are abolishing the death penalty and these barbaric executions which would save taxpayers millions upon millions of dollars, that could be used for education and health care for the people.

    It is time for public view of the preparation and all that it takes to “execute / murder” a human being by the state — or simply abolish it. Murders committed by both parties is unacceptable. Life in a Arizona desert prison without parole is a far worse punishment and is a fraction of the cost.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

 

Scroll To Top