It's "unprecedented, wholly novel and frankly absurd," a lethal injection expert says of Arizona's new death penalty plan, which includes a provision for what one columnist calls a "do-it-yourself execution." Under the plan, the Arizona Department of Corrections—which has been unable to acquire execution drugs pentobarbital and thiopental—suggests lawyers provide the drugs to be used to kill their own clients, provided they come from a licensed pharmacy, manufacturer, or supplier, per the Guardian. Not only does such a scheme raise ethical concerns, but it's impossible by law. The makers of pentobarbital won't allow the drug to be used in executions and thiopental isn't sold in the US and can't be imported, EJ Montini writes at the Arizona Republic.
"It is hard to comprehend what the ADC was thinking in including this nonsensical, unprecedented provision as part of its execution procedures," an assistant federal public defender says. "If the state wants to have the death penalty, it has the duty to figure out how to do it constitutionally. The state cannot pass its obligation on to the condemned prisoner." There are 119 inmates on death row in Arizona. However, executions have been halted since 2014—when a death row inmate took two hours to die—as the state battles a lawsuit over its handling of the death penalty, reports KTAR. Lawyers in that case argue unconstitutional protocols give the corrections director too much leeway in deciding the types and doses of drugs used. (Read more death penalty stories.)