The Arizona Department of Corrections has chosen a California company that specializes in planning and designing prisons to conduct a review of the July 23, two-hour execution of Joseph Wood.
Carter Goble Associates, DBA CBL, was one of two companies to bid for the job, but the other company’s bid was declared incomplete, according to documents.
Spokesman Doug Nick said the department will have no comment while the review is being conducted.
The state decided to have an independent review of Wood’s execution after it took two hours to kill him with 15 doses of an unproven drug combination. Witnesses said he snorted and gasped more than 600 times. Lethal injection executions in Arizona have typically been done with one dose that killed the inmate in an apparently peaceful way in a few minutes.
The company is charging $241 per hour and estimates it will take 260 hours for a lump sum of $62,660. CBL is going to partner with Correctional Solutions Inc. on the project, which is estimated to take 12 weeks.
The company’s website shows its services include planning, design and designing maintenance of prisons.
The company’s proposal said the project team members have extensive experience with executions.
One of the members, Kenneth McGinnis, created the execution policy for the Illinois Department of Corrections when the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, and Ron Angelone, CEO of Correctional Solutions, oversaw 85 executions when he ran the Virginia Department of Corrections.
The department wants the consultant to look at alternative methods of execution and other lethal injection drugs, according to documents detailing work to be done in reviewing the execution of Wood.
Lethal injection is the primary method used by 35 states, the military and the U.S. government in carrying out executions, but many states have the electric chair, gas chamber, hanging gallows and firing squads as secondary methods.
Arizona allows inmates who were sentenced before November 1992, which is when lethal injection was adopted, a choice between the needle and the gas chamber.
The procurement documents indicate the consultant also was to look at the “feasibility of obtaining other fast-acting barbiturates besides pentobarbital,” the drug used in 11 executions since 2011. The state switched to the new drug combination when pentobarbital became scarce nationally after its maker, Lundbeck, began requiring buyers in 2011 to agree not to distribute to U.S. prisons for executions.
That is the reason the state switched to using the combination of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a painkiller, in heavy doses.
Ohio used that combination, except in smaller doses, for the first time Jan. 16. Witnesses to that execution said the inmate, Dennis McGuire, was gasping and struggling in his restraints for a prolonged time.
Witnesses to Wood’s July 23 execution say he gasped for air over 600 times and snorted during his nearly two hours on the gurney.
The review became necessary after Gov. Jan Brewer became concerned about the length of time it took to kill Wood, but the governor already declared the execution lawful 90 minutes after it ended.