- Associated Press - Sunday, October 26, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) - Several news outlets are suing to gain information on the procedures and sources of drugs used to carry out lethal injections for death row inmates, The Arizona Republic reported (https://bit.ly/1tapLO1) Saturday.

The newspaper has joined other news organizations in a federal lawsuit against the Arizona Department of Corrections and Attorney General Tom Horne. Other media organizations acting as plaintiffs include Guardian News and Media and the Arizona Daily Star.

According to the complaint, the media outlets argue that withholding information about executions is unconstitutional. They argue that executions are public events. As a result, denying information about how they are carried out violates freedom of the press and equal protection under the law.

The lawsuit follows the July 23 execution of inmate Joseph Rudolph Wood. It took Wood nearly two hours and 15 dosages of lethal injection drugs before he died.

His attorneys say the execution was botched, a claim the Department of Corrections denies. Wood’s defense team and attorneys for other death row inmates filed a lawsuit seeking to know which drugs will be used in executions, where they come from and who will administer them. The First Amendment Coalition of Arizona joined that suit in September.

The standard drug used in executions in Arizona since the 1970s became unavailable in 2010. The Republic reported that the Arizona Department of Corrections used a law guaranteeing confidentiality of executioners’ identities to conceal it was illegally getting the drug from Great Britain. As a result, the U.S. Justice Department prohibited the use of imported drugs for executions in the U.S. Since then, Arizona has switched to a two-drug combination already used in Ohio.

The execution brought new attention to the death penalty debate in the U.S. as opponents said it was proof that lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment.


Information from: The Arizona Republic, https://www.azcentral.com

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