Attorney General Tom Horne Wants Delay of Executions Reduced by a Decade

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne is trying to shave about a decade off the delay between verdicts and executions.

It's not exactly Horne's idea, but he's been trying to get the Justice Department to approve Arizona's rules that expedite the post-conviction process in death-penalty cases.

See also:
-Horne: "There Is No Rational Reason" Execution to Take So Long

Horne has made no secret about wanting to speed up the execution pace in Arizona. His office claims the average delay between verdict and execution in capital cases in several Western states is 18 years.

Horne hopes to reduce that delay by as much as a decade.

Years ago, Arizona's capital case procedures were amended so the state could "opt in" to expedite the process under federal law. Letters between Horne and the Justice Department show that the Justice Department is still "engaged in the rulemaking process" for this law.

Horne told the Justice Department earlier this year that he wanted a decision, which hasn't come quick enough for Horne's liking. He's filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department to get it going.

"After waiting four and a half years, I wrote a letter to the Justice Department saying if they did not adopt rules, or approve Arizona without the rules, within 90 days, we would file a law suit," Horne says in a statement. "The 90 days have passed without action and we have proceeded as planned."

There are people on Arizona's death row who have been there for more than two decades. Back in 2010, the Arizona Department of Corrections reported that it cost an estimated $66.90 a day to house one death-row inmate -- for a total of $3.1 million that year.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.

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