In January, the state of Ohio put Dennis McGuire to death. Choking, with his body clenching, Mr. McGuire took 25 minutes to die. Prior to the execution, an anesthesiologist said the combination of drugs being used would cause "air hunger" — extreme difficulty in breathing, which would cause Mr. McGuire "great terror." Also prior to the execution, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Madden stated, "You're not entitled to a pain-free execution."
In April, the state of Oklahoma put Clayton Lockett to death. It took Mr. Lockett more than 40 minutes to die. He died of a heart attack after the executioners decided they had blown the attempt to kill Mr. Lockett and tried to revive him. After an autopsy, there were questions about the skill levels of those carrying out the execution. There were multiple puncture wounds and hemorrhages indicating that the executioners were clueless about their task. The state of Oklahoma refused to address the issue, claiming privacy needs of their employees.
This month, the state of Arizona put Joseph Rudolph Wood to death. Mr. Wood took nearly two hours to die. He gasped and snorted for more than an hour. An AP reporter who witnessed the execution stated that Mr. Wood gasped more than 600 times. Tom Hayden, a KSAZ reporter who also witnessed the execution said he was like a "fish gulping for air." Governor Jan Brewer announced, "One thing is certain, however: Inmate Wood died in a lawful manner."
Judge Alex Kosinski, Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, calls executions "brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that." Thankfully Illinois no longer puts prisoners to death in the name of justice.
My thanks to state Rep. Karen Yarbrough and state Sen. Kwame Raoul for sponsoring the bill to abolish the death penalty in our state. Thanks to Governor Quinn for signing it on March 9, 2011.
Thanks also to state representatives Camille Lilly and LaShawn K. Ford and state senators Kimberly Lightford and Don Harmon for voting for the bill.