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Documents Reveal Arizona Preparing Gas Chamber For Executions

By Jimmy Jenkins
Published: Thursday, June 3, 2021 - 10:10am

Arizona Department of Corrections headquarters
Jimmy Jenkins/KJZZ
The Arizona Department of Corrections headquarters in downtown Phoenix.

Reporting from the Guardian has revealed Arizona is refurbishing its gas chamber as the state prepares to resume executions for the first time in seven years.

Arizona put executions on hold in 2014 after the botched execution of Joseph Wood, a process that required 15 doses of a lethal injection cocktail over the course of two hours.

Federal executions conducted in 2020 using the single-drug injection of pentobarbital emboldened states like Arizona to resume their pursuit of the death penalty.

Arizona has now also acquired pentobarbital, but state law requires that prisoners convicted before Nov. 23, 1992, when the state still used a gas chamber, be given the choice between lethal injection and gas.

Documents obtained by the U.K. newspaper show the state has retrofitted the chamber and obtained the ingredients to make hydrogen cyanide, the same gas used to kill Jews at Auschwitz.

According to the Arizona Attorney General's Office, there are 20 death row prisoners who have exhausted appeals in Arizona. Seventeen of those prisoners have the choice of execution method. State law states the default method is lethal injection if prisoners decline to choose.