Arizona wants to speed up executions because its drugs are going out of date

Attorneys for two inmates on death row accused state’s attorney general of a ‘foul-up’

Gino Spocchia
Wednesday 07 July 2021 16:55
<p>Arizona state prison</p>

Arizona state prison

Arizona wants to fast-track two executions because the state’s drug supply has a shorter shelf life than first thought.

The Arizona Department of Corrections announced in April it was ready to execute two inmates and spent $1.5 million (£1.1 million) for the drug. Both men were convicted of murder.

But authorities recently acknowledged in court that it only has 45 days to carry out the lethal injections, according to AZ Central. It was thought that Arizona had 90 days from issuing motions for two execution warrants to compound the drug, test it, and carry out executions by the fall.

Frank Atwood, the first of the two inmates scheduled for execution, has a date for 28 September; the second, Clarence Dixon, has a date for 19 October, according to AZ Central.

Filing two requests in court on 22 June, Arizona attorney general Mark Brnovich asked for the two executions to be carried out sooner than the scheduled dates.

An attorney for Dixon said it would give the inmate four days to respond to the state's motion for an execution warrant.

Dale Baich, one of Dixon’s attorneys, added that Arizona should refile its motion for an execution warrant "at such a time as it is prepared to pursue Mr Dixon's execution in a manner consistent with his state and federal rights”.

Mr Baich told Newsweek: "The State of Arizona has full control over its execution drugs, and it sought the original briefing schedule based on information received from its own pharmacist.”

“The state now says that pharmacist was wrong. This is not the first time Arizona has had problems with execution drugs.”

The attorney noted that in 2014, the execution of Joseph Wood “took nearly two hours because the novel drug combination did not work as the state intended”.

In 2015, the state had an illegal import of lethal drugs seized by federal authorities “because it violated a federal court injunction that stemmed from Arizona’s 2011 illegal importation of drugs”, Mr Baich added.

An attorney for Atwood initially questioned Arizona's 90-day execution schedule because medical journals and scientists argued that it was effective for only 45 days.

"He is trying to shirk responsibility for any foul-up," Mr Perkovich told AZ Central of the attorney general, Mr Brnovich "He has blown a million and a half dollars on a drug he can't legally use in Arizona."

The Independent has reached out to the Arizona Department of Corrections for comment.

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