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Was the execution of Arizona inmate Joseph Wood too cruel?

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The above is not a joke. Arizona inmate Joseph Wood, who was convicted of murder and assault in the 1989 deaths of his estranged girlfriend and her father – was put to death by lethal injection Wednesday.
But instead of falling into the sleep that would have ended his lift, he gasped and struggled during the two-hours that it took him to die.

Reporters witnessing the execution were horrified at the sight of Wood gasping and struggling for an hour and 40 minutes – prompting calls by Governor Jan Brewer to examine the process.

Should it matter if the end result is going to be death anyway? If you don’t believe in capitol punishment, then I’d have to assume that you believe whatever form it takes is cruel and unusual. However even staunch advocates seem to feel that the manner in which Wood died was excessive.

According to cnn.com:

“It took Joseph Wood two hours to die, and he gasped and struggled to breathe for about an hour and 40 minutes. We will renew our efforts to get information about the manufacturer of drugs as well as how Arizona came up with the experimental formula of drugs it used today,” attorney Dale Baich said in a statement.

 

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer had this to say about the matter:

“One thing is certain, however, inmate Wood died in a lawful manner and by eyewitness and medical accounts he did not suffer. This is in stark comparison to the gruesome, vicious suffering that he inflicted on his two victims — and the lifetime of suffering he has caused their family,” Brewer said.

 

One of Wood’s victims relatives doesn’t think he suffered:

“I don’t believe he was gasping for air; I don’t believe he was suffering. It sounded to me like was snoring,” said Jeanne Brown, a relative of Wood’s victims.

“You don’t know what excruciating is. What’s excruciating is seeing your dad laying there in a pool of blood, seeing you sister laying there in a pool of blood. This man deserved it. And I shouldn’t really call him a man,” she said.

Michael Kiefer, a reporter for the Arizona Republic, who has witnessed fix executions, had this to add:

“Usually it takes about 10 minutes, the person goes to sleep. This was not that,” he told reporters afterward. “It started off looking as if it was going alright but then obviously something didn’t go right. It took two hours.”

 

I realize that adding the element of torture to an inmate sentenced to die seems barbaric – but one only has to ask the family members of the victim(s) whether or not it matters.

In a civilized society as we purport to be, probably so!

Do you feel the Arizona inmate’s death by a botched lethal injection was too cruel?

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