By Nancy Nonini, Social Justice Action Team-Criminal Justice
Did you know? According to the Death Penalty Information Center:
Arizona reportedly has “refurbished” its gas chamber and has spent more than $2,000 to acquire ingredients to execute prisoners with cyanide gas, the same gas used by the Nazis to murder more than one million men, women, and children during the Holocaust. Christoph Heubner, executive vice president of the International Auschwitz Committee, told the New York Times, “For Auschwitz survivors, the world will finally come apart at the seams, if in any place on this earth the use of Zyklon B in the killing of human beings is considered again.”
Executions in Arizona have been on hold since 2014, when the state botched the lethal -injection execution of Joseph Wood. As Arizona officials attempt to restart executions, they spent $1.5 million to obtain lethal injection drugs, even as the Department of Corrections faces a budget crisis. On April 6, 2021, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced that he is asking the Arizona Supreme Court to set a briefing schedule and issue execution warrants for Frank Atwood and Clarence Dixon. The Arizona Supreme Court granted Brnovich’s motion on May 21. The Court has set dates for Mr. Atwood and Mr. Dixon to respond to the request.
In the US since 1973, more than 180 people have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence. A 2009 poll commissioned by DPIC (Death Penalty Information Center) found police chiefs ranked the death penalty last among ways to reduce violent crime. The police chiefs also considered the death penalty the least efficient use of taxpayers’ money.
- 140 countries have abolished the death penalty, including nearly all of Europe, Central and South America, and numerous countries in Africa. China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the US are among the 10 countries that annually execute the most people. (Wouldn’t we rather the US be grouped with the former rather than the latter countries in how it treats its citizens?)
- The death penalty does not mean that we will be executing monsters. We will be executing men and women. As Jesus said, “Let any of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone…” John 8:7. “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take not pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.” Ezekiel 33:11
So what can we do as Christians? We can contact Governor Ducey and Director David Shinn and ask them to stop the executions that are being planned. Emails are easy; phone calls have more impact; but any communication is valuable. Governor Ducey: 602-542-4331, firstname.lastname@example.org; Director Shinn of AZ Dept of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Re-entry: 602-542-5497, email@example.com.