Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs, with Attorney General Kris Mayes, announced, via Executive Order, a moratorium on the death penalty yesterday (January 20, 2023.)

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Please click here to read the Executive Order.

The Governor’s announcement stemmed from a need to create greater transparency in the death penalty protocol process, specifically in the areas of lethal drug acquisition, execution guidelines, and staff preparation.

To that end, the Governor, at both a press conference and official press release announced the creation of a Death Penalty Review Commissioner who, after being selected by the Governor in consultation with the Attorney General,  will oversee establishing this transparent and accountable process.

Commenting on this order at a press conference yesterday, Governor Hobbs continually stressed that:

“We just want to review the practices and we worked closely with the Attorney General’s office in this decision to issue this Executive Order and appoint this Commissioner. The recent executions have been embroiled in controversy. I mean the death penalty is a controversial issue, to begin with. We just want to make sure the practices are sound and that we don’t end up with botched executions like we’ve seen recently.”

The Governor continually avoided probing by attending journalists about her personal views on the death penalty. It came to the point when one of the Governor’s devoted team members responded to the reporter’s repeated questions on the topic, saying “Folks, she said she’s not going to tell you. How many times do you want her to say the same things over and over?”

In the middle of the press conference, the Governor was asked why her Executive Order did not discuss the “fairness of the death penalty” and the fact that minority convicts receive the death penalty in greater numbers than white ones. She responded:

“That’s certainly a conversation worth having. I think it’s the scope of this particular order is much more limited and certainly would be willing to entertain further action on the broader issue of the whole process.”

In the official press release after the conference, the Governor relayed:

“With the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry now under new leadership, it’s time to address the fact that this is a system that needs better oversight on numerous fronts. Arizona has a history of mismanaged executions that have resulted in serious questions and concerns about ADCRR’s execution protocols and lack of transparency. I’m confident that under Director Thornell, ADCRR will take this executive action seriously.”

Attorney General Kris Mayes also offered a comment on the Governor’s press release, stating:

“I welcome Governor Hobbs’ efforts to increase transparency and oversight into Arizona’s execution process and protocols. I look forward to the full report from the Commissioner and to ensuring that if executions are carried out, they are handled in a transparent and accountable manner in our state.”

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