The Death Penalty in Arizona

the death penaltyArizona and the death penalty have had a very complicated relationship over the years. The death penalty is formally called capital punishment in a judicial setting. Over the years Arizona did away with capital punishment and then they reinstated it.

Brief History on Capital Punishment in Arizona

The first execution to take place in Arizona was done by hanging in 1910 but was later changed to lethal gases in 1934. There was not a single execution in Arizona between the years of 1962 and 1992. Part of this was due in part to the fact that in 1972 the U.S. Supreme Court found that the death penalty violated the 8th Amendment Rights that prohibit cruel and unusual punishment.

Most of the court decided that it was the lack of guidance and the lack of discretion taken by the courts that made the death penalty a violation. There would need to be new measures put into place in order for the death penalty to be allowed to be carried out.

In 1973, the Arizona legislature passed the setting forth of a new procedure for the death penalty cases that came through the system. This required a second sentencing trial court and there are 6 circumstances that they consider for death row offenses.

The state of Arizona voters made execution by lethal injection legal in 1992. Anyone who was sentenced to death prior to this was given the choice of lethal injection or gas as the form of carrying out the capital punishment they had been sentenced.

Due to a mess up during execution in 2014, an inmate scheduled to be executed was given the wrong dosage of the sedative they give prior to the execution and it lasted for over two hours before he was pronounced dead. This brought back the debate over the death penalty and they were temporarily stopped for the time being.

It is believed that the inmate, Joseph R. Wood III was administered a dosage that was 15 times more than the allowable dose for the sedative and the pain killer that is part of the lethal injection cocktail.

Guidelines for Capital Punishment in Arizona Today

The death penalty is allowed again in the state of Arizona, but only under certain circumstances. The conviction of first-degree murder with extenuating circumstances is the only allowable reason for the death penalty to be utilized in the state of Arizona.

There are currently no other offenses that Arizona recognizes as allowable for capital punishment.

Lethal injection is the only method of punishment that is permissible in the state of Arizona for capital punishment. This combination has been changed since the incident in 2014 with the midazolam and hydrocodone combination. They are now listed as using a 2 drug system of midazolam and hydromorphone. Arizona has not sentenced many inmates to death since the 2014 incident.

The youngest offender age that can be sentenced to death is 15. This is for those offenses where the juvenile has been found guilty of murder and is being sentenced as an adult because of the severe circumstances, death would be on the table.

When you or someone you love is being charged with first-degree murder it is important to get them an Arizona legal attorney who can navigate all of their legal needs. Getting a lawyer may be the difference between life and death.

Click here to find out the difference between first and second degree murders in Arizona.