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Arizona is again preparing to execute some criminals in Florence. The two men, as usual, long ago were convicted of heinous crimes. One of the murder victims was an 8-year-old child in Tucson and the other an Arizona State University student. As always, the length of time that has elapsed has allowed for numerous appeals, but it also raises questions of “why now?” One of the cases occurred more than 40 years ago.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is doing his job diligently in preparing for the executions. This comes after seven years of no executions and problems with the drugs used in lethal injection.

The state has 115 inmates on death row, most of them male. About 20 of them have exhausted all their appeals.

Over the years the state has changed its method of execution multiple times because of concern over brutality. Hanging was abandoned after a woman was decapitated, and poison gas was abandoned in 1992 after an execution took 11 minutes. Since then, lethal injection also has had its problems. Opposition to capital punishment has contributed to difficulty in getting drugs from manufacturers, and some of the drugs used have caused a delay in death. Inmates who committed crimes before the 1992 change have the option of choosing gas, and one did in 1999, apparently the last in the United States to be killed that way.

The fact that death sentences now must be handed down by a jury instead of a judge makes getting those sentences more difficult. And that makes things much more complicated and expensive for the prosecution.

The death penalty long has had popularity in the United States, but it is less so now than earlier. It is difficult to argue with the families of victims brutally murdered. However, 19 states now have no death penalty, which no doubt saves them money. Many countries also do not have it, even though their justice systems do not equal what we have, causing irony.

Life in prison without parole is an adequate punishment for the worst crimes. Abolition of the death penalty is overdue, but it won’t likely come soon in Arizona.

— Donovan Kramer Jr.

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