Death Penalty Researchers Call 2022 ‘Year of the Botched Execution’

In Nevada, where the state has not executed anyone since 2006, the state Board of Pardons will discuss next week whether to commute the death sentences of all 65 people on Nevada’s death row to life in prison.

Of the 18 executions this year, Texas and Oklahoma each carried out five, followed by Arizona with three and Alabama with two. Oklahoma made headlines earlier in the year when the state announced that it would seek to execute 25 prisoners over a 29-month period. Executions in Oklahoma were halted in 2015 because of botched executions, and then later because of a lawsuit over one of the drugs used during lethal injections, but they have since resumed.

The report on Friday cited problems in trying to carry out executions in a range of states. In Arizona, prison officials had difficulty accessing a vein in a man who had long claimed he was innocent of killing an 8-year-old girl, and were able to do so only once the man himself suggested that they try to find a vein in his hand instead.

In Tennessee, the governor halted all executions until next year after the state failed to properly test lethal injection drugs, a revelation that led to the halt of an execution about an hour before a prisoner was to be killed.

In South Carolina, where officials had searched for alternatives after problems finding lethal injection drugs, a judge stopped the state from moving forward with executions by firing squad or electric chair, deeming the methods cruel and unusual.

Still, perhaps no state had as many high-profile problems as Alabama.

In issuing the temporary moratorium on executions last month, Alabama’s governor, Kay Ivey, said she did not believe that prison or law enforcement officials were at fault for the botched attempts. Instead, Ms. Ivey, a Republican, placed the blame on lawyers filing appeals for the prisoners as their execution dates neared, saying they left prison officials insufficient time to carry out the executions before death warrants expired.

Defense lawyers bristled at that claim, saying that their appeals often raised significant, new issues and that the state should have had time to carry out the executions if they were properly conducted.

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