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‘Year of the botched execution’ in US

19 Dec 2022 / global news Print

‘Year of the botched execution’ in US

An annual report on the death penalty in the US has said that 2022 could be described as “the year of the botched execution”.

The Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) added, however, that nearly every statistic pointed to “the continuing durability” of a sustained decline of the death penalty in the US over the past 20 years.

The centre said that seven of the 20 execution attempts made by states were “visibly problematic”, as a result of executioner incompetence, failures to follow protocols, or defects in the protocols themselves.

‘Surreal’ spectacle

The report cited a number of examples – including the execution of Joe James Jr in Alabama in July, when executioners took three hours to set an IV line before putting him to death.

“Executions were put on hold in Alabama, Tennessee, Idaho, and South Carolina when the states were unable to follow execution protocols. Idaho scheduled an execution without the drugs to carry it out,” the non-profit organisation said.

“Although states persisted in veiling the execution process in secrecy, what reporters were able to see, and what autopsies or failed executions revealed, was shocking,” the report stated.

It said that witnesses had reported significant problems in all three of Arizona’s executions – including the “surreal” spectacle of a “possibly innocent” man assisting his executioners in finding a vein in which to inject the lethal chemicals.

Five-year averages fall

The report found that 18 executions were carried out In the US last year, while 22 death sentences were imposed.

The five-year average of new death sentences per year, at 27, was the lowest in 50 years. The five-year average of executions (18.6 per year) was the lowest in more than 30 years.

Overall, 37 states have now abolished the death penalty, or have not carried out an execution in more than a decade.

DPIC also referred to opinion polls showing that public support for capital punishment and jury verdicts for death remained near 50-year lows during 2022.

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