Death penalty opponents have condemned a series of ex*cutions in the United States this week, including one canceled after officials spent an hour trying to set up an intravenous line for a prisoner’s lethal injection.

Reprieve US said three of the four ex*cutions scheduled over two days this week were “sparred”.

Murray Hooper was executed in Arizona on Wednesday, and media witnesses reported that officials struggled to insert an IV for 25 minutes and eventually had to insert one into his right leg, severing the femoral artery.

Stephen Barbee was executed in Texas on Wednesday. The ex*cution of Barbee, who was disabled, took more than 90 minutes as prison officials had difficulty finding a usable vein in his body, The Texas Tribune reports.

said Barbee’s attorney, Richard Ellis Newsweek was “saddened by Stefan’s physical disability that we had warned about [Texas Department of Criminal Justice]seem to have played a role in his prolonged ex*cution.”

A day later, Alabama abandoned the ex*cution of Kenneth Smith after officials could not find a suitable vein to inject the deadly dr*gs before midnight.

Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jon Hamm told reporters that officials tried to place the IVs for an hour before concluding they did not have enough time to execute Smith before his d*ath sentence expired.

“The recent spate of catastrophic lethal injection ex*cutions has shown that regardless of drug, regardless of protocol, convicted prisoners often spend their final hours in agonizing pain and suffering,” Maya Foa, director of Reprieve US, said in a statement to Newsweek.

“With each gruesome scene in the d*ath chamber, we witness the consequences of keeping a broken method of ex*cution in real time.”

Activists also noted that Smith’s was the latest in a series of faulty lethal injections in Alabama.

Alan Miller’s scheduled ex*cution was canceled in September due to difficulties accessing his veins. In court records, Miller said officials had been pricking him with needles for nearly two hours, and at one point left him hanging upright on a stretcher before announcing they were stopping.

Execution of Joe James Jr. in July, it was delayed three hours due to problems with the establishment of the IV line, leading Reprieve to state that the procedure was also botched.

Death chamber in Huntsville, Texas.
Joe Raedle/Newsmakers/Getty Images

“No matter how many ex*cutions catastrophically mishandled by its officials, Alabama seems determined to insist on lethal injection,” Foa said.

“Alan Miller, Joe James and Doyle Lee Hamm were subjected to prolonged suffering, but nevertheless the state sped up the ex*cution of Kenneth Smith using the same broken procedure.

“Being prepared for ex*cution, tied to a stretcher and stabbed again and again with needles as prison officers try and fail to kill you, is torture. That’s the definition of “cruel and unusual punishment” and even capital punishment supporters have to recognize that it’s time for Alabama to rethink.”

Alabama “Botched Another Execution Attempt,” Robert Dunham, Executive Director of the Center for Death Penalty Information, tweeted on Friday.

“After repeated unsuccessful attempts to set up an intravenous infusion, ADOC canceled the ex*cution of Kenneth Smith. This is the state’s third failed ex*cution since February 2018, and the fourth during this period with significant IV issues.”

Newsweek contacted prison officials in Arizona, Alabama and Texas for comment.

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