The Gov. said Kate Hobbs (D-Ariz.) announced a new order on Friday to establish an Independent Review Commission of the Death Penalty to provide transparency to the state’s enforcement and reporting system.
In a statement, Hobbs’ office said he signed a executive order established the commissioner as part of his first 100 Day initiative to “build a Arizona for all people,” which explains the first 100 actions he will take as governor.
Hobbs’ office said the commissioner will be responsible for reviewing and providing transparency to the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, and Reentry (ADCRR) lethal injection drug and gas chamber chemical procurement, penalty protocols, and staff evaluations, including training and experience.
“With the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry under new leadership, it’s time to acknowledge the fact that this is a system that needs more attention on many fronts,” he said. said Hobbs in a information. “Arizona has a history of unruly sanctions that have led to serious questions and concerns about ADCRR’s rules and lack of transparency. I believe that under Director (Ryan) Thornell, the ADCRR will encourage this special activity.
The appointment of the Commissioner of Independent Review of the Death Penalty is intended to improve the transparency and accountability of the ADCRR implementation process, and to provide recommendations for improving the safety of process, according to Hobbs’ office.
The governor’s office said that at the end of the review period, the commissioner’s report will be issued, which will include recommendations for improving transparency. , accountability, as well as the safety of work performance.
“I welcome Governor Hobbs’ efforts to increase transparency and oversight in the implementation of Arizona’s laws and regulations,” said Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes. “I look forward to the full report from the Commissioner and to ensure that if sanctions are imposed, they are dealt with in a transparent and consistent way in our state.”
AG Withdraw Death Arrest
On Friday, Mayes’ office filed a motion (pdf) in the Arizona Supreme Court to revoke a single death warrant, effectively halting the state’s death penalty.
Mayes tried to revoke the death warrant for inmate Aaron Gunches, who originally filed to begin his own trial on Nov. 25, 2022, but later reversed his decision to file January 4, and requested the withdrawal of his request, according to Mayes. .
“My ancestor’s authorities sought a death warrant for Mr. Gunches after he started the procedure himself. These conditions are now changing,” said Mayes in a information.
“However, that is not the only reason why I have requested the withdrawal of the motion,” he said. “A thorough review of Arizona’s laws and practices governing capital punishment is needed.”
Arizona is not the only state to order such an enforcement review, and Mayes’ office says such reviews have been ordered by “officials from both sides of the aisle.” across the country, and at least one such review has recently revealed a number of problems, including non-compliance.
“If Arizona is going to terminate individuals, there must be a process for doing so that is transparent, accountable, and true to our Constitution and the law,” Mayes said. “I look forward to working with the Governor, the newly appointed commissioner, and others to ensure public confidence in Arizona’s capital punishment system.”
Arizona suspended the death penalty for eight years after the July 2014 execution of Joseph Wood, who was given 15 doses of a two-drug mixture over a two-hour period, in a process that was controversial He replaced the lawyer who failed. Arizona law only requires two doses.
It was reported that Wood had repeated inhalation and exhalation more than 600 times before his death. The state has had difficulty obtaining antibiotics in recent years because American and European pharmaceutical companies have refused to allow their products to be used in vaccines.
Former Governor Doug Ducey and former Attorney General Mark Brnovich had their sentences extended to 2022. The sentence is three death penalty prisons were held in 2022 for Clarence Dixon, Frank Atwood, and Murray Hooper.
In May 2022, Dixon this is the first execution since 2014, for the killing of a college student in 1978. In June 2022, Atwood was executed for killing an 8-year-old girl in 1984. In November 2022, Hooper was executed for killing two people in 1980.
Gunches, who successfully avoided the death penalty, was sentenced to death for the 2002 murder of Ted Price, a longtime partner of Gunches’ girlfriend. He kidnapped Price and shot him several times in a desert area near the Beeline Highway.
In 2004, Gunches pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and kidnapping and has been denied legal representation, mitigation efforts, and post-sentence proceedings.
After Gunches requested his own sentence in November 2022, Brnovich filed an answer on December 7, 2022, and moved to the state Supreme Court to issue a warrant of the death penalty. In his court filing, Mayes said the state could not have moved for that death warrant if Gunches “had not asked to be killed.”
Arizona has used capital punishment as a method of punishment since 1993, with several long breaks in executions in the years since then. time