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Executioners in Arizona needed 25 minutes to put an IV into a death row inmate to administer a legal injection in what one expert says is the sign of an “unqualified executioner.”
Clarence Dixon, 66, was executed Wednesday at Florence State Prison for his 1978 murder conviction in the slaying of 21-year-old Arizona State University student Deana Bowdoin.
He was the first inmate to be executed in the state since 2014. He appeared to follow the state’s execution protocol. After injecting the drug, Dixon’s mouth remained open and his body did not move. He was pronounced dead about 10 minutes later.
But death penalty experts said Thursday that the estimated 25 minutes it took for medical personnel to insert an IV into Dixon’s body was too long.
Workers first tried unsuccessfully to insert an IV into his left arm before they were able to connect it to his right. They then opted to make an incision, known as a ‘cut’, in the groin area for another IV.
Deborah Denno, a professor at Fordham Law School who has studied executions for more than 25 years, said executions should take seven to 10 minutes from the start of the IV insertion process to the time the man is pronounced dead. prisoner.
“It’s a sign of desperation [on the part of the execution team], and it’s a sign of an unqualified executioner,” Denno said.
Before Dixon was executed, the last execution in Arizona took place in July 2014, when Joseph Wood was given 15 doses of a combination of two drugs over nearly two hours. Wood repeatedly snorted and gasped before dying. The process dragged on so long that the Arizona Supreme Court called an emergency hearing during the execution to decide whether to stop the proceedings.
Arizona has since changed its execution protocols and agreed to no longer use one of the drugs, midazolam, that Wood was injected with. Instead, Dixon was executed with an injection of pentobarbital.
The problems with Wood’s death, combined with the difficulty the state faced in finding sources to sell its lethal injection drugs, led to a nearly eight-year hiatus in executions in Arizona.
Similar problems have previously occurred with medical workers attempting to insert IVs into sentenced prisoners.
Alabama prison officials tried to execute an inmate for ON in February 2017, but had to stop because medical workers couldn’t find a suitable vein to hook up the IV. The prisoner died of cancer almost four years later.
A November 2017 execution was called off in Ohio after members of the execution team told the director of state prisons they couldn’t find a vein. The prisoner died of natural causes several months later.
And another execution by lethal injection in Ohio was called off in September 2009 after two hours when technicians couldn’t find a suitable vein for a convicted prisoner, who had cried in pain while receiving 18 needle sticks. He died in prison in late 2020 from possible complications of COVID-19.
Rick Romley, who led the county attorney’s office in metro Phoenix that brought the murder charge against Dixon but left the charge before he was sentenced to death in January 2008, said the execution could have been more complicated. than planned, but did not consider it. faulty he said difficulty finding veins to insert intravenous lines is common for people both inside and outside of prison.
“That doesn’t bother me at all,” Romley said.
Asked if difficulties inserting IVs during executions violate protections against cruel and unusual punishment, Denno said there has been a history of botched executions in the US since the advent of lethal injections.
“[Dixon’s execution] may be botched, but it won’t affect anyone’s Eighth Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment,” Denno said. The courts have not been sympathetic to circumstances like this.
Amanda Bass, one of Dixon’s attorneys, did not respond to an Associated Press request for comment Thursday.
Another Arizona death row inmate, Frank Atwood, is scheduled to be executed June 8 for the 1984 murder of eight-year-old Vicki Lynne Hoskinson. Authorities have said Atwood kidnapped the girl.
The girl’s remains were discovered in the desert northwest of Tucson nearly seven months after she went missing. Experts were unable to determine a cause of death from the bones that were found, according to court records.
Arizona now has 112 prisoners on the state’s death row. Dixon was the sixth inmate in the US to be executed in 2022.
Clarence Dixon Quick and Facts
- Clarence Dixon, 66, was executed by lethal injection in Arizona on Wednesday
- He is the first person to be put to death in the state in eight years and he is the sixth in America in 2022
- Death penalty experts said the estimated 25 minutes it took to inset an IV into Dixon’s body took was too long
- The last execution in Arizona took place in July 2014, when Joseph Wood was given 15 doses of a two-drug combination over nearly two hours
- Wood snorted repeatedly and gasped before he died, suggesting his eighth amendment rights were violated
- The Arizona Supreme Court convened an emergency hearing during the execution to decide whether to halt the procedure but did not avert it