Arizona Attorney General asks for state to resume executing death row inmates

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has written a letter to Governor Doug Ducey, requesting the state resume executing its prisoners on death row.

The letter was released to the public in a tweet made on Brnovich's unverified Twitter account on Friday.

Brnovich also wrote in his letter that litigation challenging Arizona's death penalty has since been settled, clearing any legal hurdles for the state to carry out capital punishment.

"Justice must be done for the victims of these heinous crimes and their families. Those who commit the ultimate crime deserves the ultimate punishment," read a portion of the letter.

The letter was released after the U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday that it will carry out executions of federal death row prisoners for the first time since 2003. Five inmates who have been sentenced to death are scheduled to be executed starting in December. Now, Attorney General Brnovich believes obtaining the lethal injection drug should be possible.

In his letter, Brnovich said there are 14 death row inmates in Arizona that have exhausted all automatic avenues to appeal their sentences. The Attorney General's Office is asking the Governor's Office to help get pentobarbital, which the letter describes as one of the two drugs used in the state's one-drug execution protocol.

Data from the Arizona Department of Corrections show there are 116 death row inmates in Arizona. The death penalty has been in limbo for five years in Arizona, following the botched execution of inmate Joseph Wood.

"Mr. Wood was gasping for air in five to 10-second intervals for almost two hours," said Astrid Galvan with the Associated Press, in an interview from 2014.

The death penalty question has people split.

"It would depend on the crime, but I'm definitely for it," said one person.

"I don't think anybody deserves to die," said another person. "It's not up to anybody to decide who dies. That's up to god."

Brnovich's letter to Gov. Ducey has anti-death penalty groups like Death Penalty Alternatives for Arizona asking why the state would want to move back to capital punishment.

"The blood that those killers have drawn is on their hands," said Dan Peitzmeyer with Death Penalty Alternatives for Arizona, in a phone interview. "When we execute them, the blood is on all of our hands."