Arizona’s execution of Joseph Wood took almost 2 hours.
Journalists called to witness the execution said it was hard to watch, as Wood snorted and gasped. One described it like a “fish on shore gulping for air.” Arizona officials defended the procedure, saying that the proper protocols were followed.
Arizona uses 2 drugs for executions – midazolam, then hydromorphone. Florida uses a 3 drug procedure that also begins with midazolam as a sedative, then a paralytic drug to “keep him or her from flailing,” then potassium chloride to induce cardiac arrest.
But the paralyzing agent administered after the anesthetic may prevent him or her from letting anyone know that he or she is awake. The inmate may be silent and still but experience the administration of the third, deadly drug consciously.
“It would be a cruel way to die,” they wrote, “awake, paralyzed, unable to move, to breathe, while potassium burned through your veins.”