OPINION: Why do we kill while we’re trying to save lives?

USA Today via Reuters

By Phil Riske | Senior Reporter/Writer

(Editor’s note: Opinion pieces are published for discussion purposes only.)

When it comes to death, Arizona is schizophrenic.

On any given day in October, nearly 75 percent of intensive care beds in the state were in use for COVID-19 patients as front-line medical personnel tried to save around 1,200 critically ill patients.

On any given day.

But wait! There was good news that month, as reported by Arizona Mirror.

“The Arizona Department of Corrections said it had found a compound pharmacist it needs to carry out the state’s first execution in six years, hours after Attorney General Mark Brnovich said he’d also found a compounder the state could use to resume lethal injections.”

Earlier this month and with no word for days from President Trump about the pandemic, the golfing president oversaw the execution of convicted killer 40-year-old Brandon Bernard who was put to death at a penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. Three more executions are scheduled before President-elect Joe Biden’s 20 January inauguration — breaking with a 130-year-old precedent of pausing executions amid a presidential transition.

So as we hourly face and fight the ravage of the coronavisus pandemic, government looks forward to prison executions.

Death by 45 cuts

The Dealth Penalty Information Center has reported three percent of U.S. executions through 2010 were “botched,” meaning — shall we say — things didn’t go as planned.

Arizona’s quest to carry out death sentences after botching one continues. 

Corrections Director David Shinn said his agency at Gov. Doug Ducey’s direction had already begun the process of acquiring pentobarbital and had identified a compound pharmacist as the AG’s office said it has as well.

After reading about the 2014 botched execution of Joseph Wood, who lay on the gurney in Arizona’s death chamber, gasping and gulping as prison officials kept pumping execution drugs into the convicted killer’s system. By the time Wood died, after nearly two hours, he had been injected with 750mg each of midazolam and hydromorphone: 15 times the amounts called for in the state’s execution protocol, The Guardian reported.

Why then does government think securing supposidly more lethal drugs to kill prisoners is even rational at this time?

In our prisons and in our state, COVID-19 has done enough killing.

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December 2020