Late last month, Americans learned of the latest twist in the efforts of death penalty states to keep their execution machinery running when the Guardian revealed Arizona’s plan to revive the gas chamber. This news followed on the heels of continuing moves by the state’s Republican officeholders to resume putting inmates to death after a seven-year hiatus.
Arizona stopped executions after the botched lethal injection of Joseph Wood in 2014. Wood died after two hours during which time he was injected with a total of 750 mg of midazolam and hydromorphone, 15 times the amount specified in the state’s execution protocol. His death was just one of many such gruesome spectacles that have marked lethal injection’s recent history.
The plan to add death by hydrogen cyanide, the same gas (also known as Zyklon B) used by the Nazis at Auschwitz, reveals the lengths to which proponents of capital punishment will go to keep the machinery of death running. And adding the gas chamber to lethal injection as an approved method of execution ignores the ugly truth of the gas chamber’s own gruesome history.