States take hard look at execution protocols

States are re-evaluating death penalty protocols after three U.S. executions using lethal drugs involved unexpected suffering to the prisoner, and took longer than anticipated.

The supply of drugs used in lethal injections has dwindled because pharmacies are less willing to supply them, while the waiting line for executions in some states have grown.

Joseph Rudolph Wood was convicted of the 1989 shooting deaths of two people in Arizona in 1989.

Clayton Lockett received the death penalty in Oklahoma after shooting a 19-year-old woman and watching his friends bury her alive in 1999.

Dennis McGuire was sentenced to death for raping and stabbing to death a pregnant newlywed in 1989.

All three of these executions by lethal injections took much longer than anticipated. Wood’s reportedly lasted nearly two hours, while Lockett, at 43 minutes, and McGuire, at 25 minutes, also took much longer than expected.

Here is a look at how each of the different states handles the death penalty along with which ones allow it.

Click on the state to find out more.

The manner of the deaths has renewed the death penalty debate. Wood was injected with a combination of drugs 15 times throughout his nearly two-hour execution.

The length of the executions have not been seen as problematic by everyone. Jeane Brown, the sister of one of Wood’s victims, said Wood’s suffering paled in comparison to her family’s, according to television station KNXV.

“This was nothing,” Brown said in a news conference after the execution. “I don’t believe he was gasping for air. I don’t believe he was suffering.

“This man deserved it.”

One judge asked whether states with the death penalty should return to more primitive methods if they are determined to execute convicted criminals.

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote an opinion noting the death penalty is not intended to be peaceful.

"Sure, firing squads can be messy, " he wrote, "but if we are willing to carry out executions, we should not shield ourselves from the reality that we are shedding human blood. If we, as a society, cannot stomach the splatter from an execution carried out by firing squad, then we shouldn’t be carrying out executions at all."

Lynn Walsh and Sandhya Kambhampati contributed to this story. 

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