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Lawsuit filed by Jewish leaders against the State of Arizona over use of cyanide in executions

Groups say the use of gas is horrific reminder of past atrocities
Posted at 10:22 PM, Feb 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-19 14:51:32-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Jewish Community Relations Council of Phoenix (JCRC) and others filed a new lawsuit against the Arizona Department of Corrections earlier this week. Jared Keenan with the ACLU says it's over the use of cyanide in executions.

“The last time anyone was executed with the use of cyanide gases was in 1999 in Arizona. Since then, it has not been used,” Keenan said.

Maurice Goldman with the Southern Arizona JCRC says the lawsuit is focused on the specific use of the gas, not the death penalty or the merit of cases.

"It was used by Nazis back in the 1940s against millions of people and was used to exterminate them and is a cruel way to take someone's life,” Goldman said.

Maurice also says it is barbaric and should never be used in modern times. Adding that it is a painful reminder of historic atrocities committed against his people.

“Just the thought of the use of this type of gas conjures up horrible imagery. My grandmother was in Auschwitz where they killed 6-thousand Jews per day using gas chambers and using this cyanide gas to kill them,” Goldman said.

Arizona hasn’t performed an execution since 2014. Meanwhile, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is asking the Arizona Supreme court to move forward with the execution of two inmates.

"The state has already spent taxpayer money to refurbish the gas chamber leading up to executions,” Keenan said.

“There’s a symbolic gesture somewhere behind this type of action that we need to do better,” Goldman said.