The state of Washington now finds itself without an executioner, following the abrupt resignation of its lethal injection team. The four volunteers who administer lethal injections to death-row inmates at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla quit their positions because of fears their identities might become revealed as a result of a judicial ruling. A state judge, Chris Wickham, wanted to review the four individuals’ credentials, qualifications and experience in administering lethal drugs as part of a lawsuit filed by death-row inmates over the constitutionality of the execution procedure. The judge would not have revealed any information that would have personally identified the team members, but apparently the individuals were still worried about having their records held under seal at the state attorney general’s office.
Currently, there are no executions scheduled in Washington, which gives officials time to assemble a new team. The state Department of Corrections has been in touch with officials in other states in case Washington has to “borrow” a lethal-injection team. Washington has not had an execution since August 2001.