Arizona Officials Changing Drugs they use for Convicts to death
Arizona officials on Monday said they are changing drugs that are used use put inmates to death. The changes were outlined in a report by a consultant that reviewed Joseph Rudolph Wood's controversial execution, which critics said was botched and brought demands that procedures be changed.
According to a letter from Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan to Gov. Jan Brewer, the agency will no longer use the drug combination, which was used in the controversial July execution of Wood.
Wood, 55, was sentenced to death for killing his ex-girlfriend and her father in Tucson in 1989. In the weeks before his July 23 execution, Wood's attorneys petitioned the court to compel more information about midazolam, which had been used in at least two other flawed executions in prior months.
Executioners injected Wood with 15 ostensibly lethal doses of a cocktail of midazolam and hydromorphone, before he finally died.
The letter sent by Ryan mentioned the department will stop using the mixture of midazolam, a Valium-like drug, and hydromorphone, a painkiller.
He said he would retain the option of using a single-drug method using either sodium thiopental or pentobarbital, drugs that were used effectively in lethal injections in Arizona until it became difficult to obtain.
Ryan also wants to add the option of a three-drug combination if Arizona cannot acquire those drugs. It will start with midazolam to sedate the inmate powerfully. Then a paralytic drug will be used to render the inmate motionless and in order to stop the heat, potassium chloride will be added.
Until 2010, when it became unavailable for executions, thiopental was used as the first of a three-drug protocol. Ryan said he would like to reintroduce that option in the event his department can obtain thiopental.
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