Discussion:
death penalty news----TEXAS, FLA., ALA., LA., OHIO, KY.
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Rick Halperin
2017-04-19 13:27:34 UTC
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Raw Message
April 19




TEXAS:

Condemned inmate avoids execution with life sentence for Houston crime spree


A North Carolina man who spent years on Texas' death row awaiting execution was
sentenced Monday to 4 consecutive life sentences, a plea bargain that Harris
County prosecutors hope will keep him behind bars for the rest of his life.

Randolph Mansoor Greer, 43, was on death row until 2011, when the U.S. Supreme
Court handed down a ruling that meant he and dozens of condemned inmates would
get new sentencing hearings because of insufficient jury instructions.

Those cases, called Penry retrials because of the Supreme Court case, have been
winding their way through Houston's courts for years. Some have successfully
been retried as death penalty cases, others have gotten plea bargains with
elaborately structured pleas to ensure the former death row inmates are never
free.

Since Texas did not have a punishment of life in prison without parole when
those crimes were committed, prosecutors and families of victims have worried
that even a capital murder conviction in these cases might one day lead to
parole. The decision to grant parole is made by prison officials with the Texas
Department of Criminal Justice under the law at the time of the crime.

On Monday, Greer was sentenced to 4 consecutive life sentences in a Texas
prison after pleading guilty to capital murder and other crimes he committed
during a 1991 spree in the Houston area, according to the Harris County
District Attorneys Office.

"26 years after committing a murderous crime spree, Mr. Greer has been
resentenced to 4 consecutive life terms without parole," First Assistant Tom
Berg said Tuesday. "Greer, now 43, has been incapacitated and will never again
pose a threat to public safety."

Prosecutors said his crime spree spanned 6 months. In separate incidents, he
abducted and sexually assaulted 2 Houston area women who survived the attacks.

He also robbed from a business, stole a car, and shot and killed Walter Chmiel,
owner of the Alamo gun shop in Bellaire.

Greer also committed a capital murder in North Carolina as well as sexual
assaults, robberies and a home invasion.

Prior to new sentencing, prosecutors consulted with survivors and the families
of victims, Berg said.

Defense attorneys Allen Tanner and Gerald Bourgue said it was a just result.

"It was an agreement based on the fact that he was 18 at the time, and he's
been a model inmate ever since then," Tanner said. "We think his prison record
was helpful for him."

Tanner also said mitigation experts combed through records and witnesses in
North Carolina and Cleveland and were expected to testify about how Greer's
troubled childhood led him to a life of crime.

(source: Houston Chronicle)






FLORIDA:

Death penalty will be pursued against man accused of shooting Sanford mother,
son----Suspect Allen Cashe faces 1st-degree murder charges


The death penalty will be pursued against Allen Cashe, who is accused of
killing a mother and her son and shooting 4 other people, was indicted Monday
on 1st-degree premeditated murder charges, according to the Seminole County
State Attorney's Office.

Cashe was indicted Monday on 1st-degree premeditated murder charges in
connection with the deaths of Latina Herring, 35, and her 8-year-old son,
Branden Christian. Officials on Tuesday filed a notice of intent to pursue the
death penalty in that case.

Cashe was also indicted on 4 counts of attempted 1st-degree murder with a
firearm in connection with the shootings of Latina Herring's father,
60-year-old Bertis Herring; Latina Herring's youngest child, 7-year-old Brenden
Christian; and 2 bystanders, Rakeya Jackson, 18, and Lazaro Paredes, 43.

Sanford police released body camera footage of Cashe and Herring had been
arguing about a set of keys hours before the double fatal shooting on March 27.
Police encountered the couple twice before the shooting, but no arrests were
made.

Cashe left Herring's home in Sanford after the 2nd police encounter, then
returned around 6:20 a.m. with an AK-47, police said. Cashe is accused of
opening fire on the family as they were sleeping.

Herring was shot 7 times and killed in her bedroom, police said.

Her 2 sons were sleeping on the couch when they were shot 3 times, the report
said. Bertis Gerard Herring was shot 5 times in another bedroom.

Cashe is accused of shooting Jackson and Paredes as he was fleeing the area.

Assistant State Attorney Dan Faggard and the lead Sanford Police Department
investigator presented information to the Grand Jury before the indictment was
returned late Monday afternoon.

Cashe also faces charges of burglary of a dwelling with assault or battery with
a firearm, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and shooting into a
dwelling.

****************

Aramis Ayala used direct verbiage from anti-death penalty group, emails
show----State attorney consulted few death penalty supporters


Emails obtained by News 6 show that embattled Orange-Osceola State Attorney
Aramis Ayala used direct phrasing from an anti-death penalty group during a
March 16 news conference in which she announced her office would not pursue
capital punishment cases.

On February 15, Stefanie Faucher of the 8th Amendment Project emailed a message
to Ayala that read, "It was really great speaking to you yesterday. I look
forward to working with you to support your decision."

The organization believes the death penalty is unconstitutional, according to
its website.

Attached to Faucher's email was a document titled "The Death Penalty is Broken
Beyond Repair," which Faucher referred to as a "message map," that outlined
several concerns with capital punishment.

Addressing the potential harm to victims, the document states, "The death
penalty traps victims' families in a decades-long cycle of uncertainty (and)
court hearings ... (while) forcing them to endure years of waiting for an
execution that may never come."

One month later, during a news conference announcing she would not be pursuing
death penalty cases, Ayala repeated several of those phrases, some nearly
word-for-word, News 6 has discovered. "I have learned that death penalty traps
many victims' families in decades-long cycle of uncertainty, court hearings,
appeals and waiting," Ayala said. "They are left waiting for an execution that
may never occur."

A state attorney spokeswoman dismissed the similarities, pointing out that the
document Ayala received from the anti-death penalty organization referenced
topics that Ayala never discussed in her news conference, such as the risk of
executing innocent inmates.

Ayala's news conference also noted other reasons for opposing the death penalty
not included in the document, such as Ayala's belief that the death penalty
does not deter crime, a spokeswoman said.

Ayala's office reiterated to News 6 on Tuesday that Ayala arrived at her
decision to not seek the death penalty shortly before her news conference
announcing her opposition to it.

"From the time she took office, (Aramis Ayala) has been extensively researching
the death penalty, speaking to people including her executive team and
organizations on all sides of the issue who are involved with the criminal
justice system," state attorney spokeswoman Eryka Washington said.

Emails obtained by News 6 confirm that Ayala communicated with several
organizations that oppose the death penalty, including Fair and Just
Prosecution, Fair Punishment Project and the 8th Amendment Project.

When News 6 inquired about death penalty supporters who Ayala consulted,
Washington identified only one by name: Deborah Barra, Ayala's chief assistant,
who has worked for the state attorney's office for more than 12 years.

Barra disagrees with her boss' decision not to pursue death penalty cases,
Washington said.

Besides Barra, the state attorney spokeswoman said Ayala also consulted with
the African American Council of Christian Clergy (AACCC), which Washington
originally described as being "pro-death penalty".

"That is absolutely false," said AACCC president Bishop Kelvin Cobaris, who
denies his organization met with Ayala as she was researching capital
punishment.

"There was a meeting held the day before (Ayala's) announcement was made,"
Cobaris said. "She spoke to us about what she was doing."

Cobaris also disputes the state attorney office's characterization that AACCC
supports the death penalty.

"Our organization cannot make that statement," Cobaris said. "That is not our
stance, for or against (the death penalty)."

The state attorney spokeswoman later acknowledged she had mistakenly described
the AACCC as being in support of the death penalty. Instead, Ayala spoke with a
few specific members of the religious organization who were personally in favor
of capital punishment, Washington said.

The state attorney spokeswoman did not immediately provide News 6 with the
names of those clergy members.

"The AACCC does not mandate positions on controversial matters, but respects
the varied opinions of our individual constituency," said Cobaris. "Any
statement of position claimed to have been made by the AACCC on the issue of
State Attorney Aramis Ayala's position on the death penalty is inaccurate and
may or may not reflect the opinions of members of the organization, but not the
organization as a whole."

Despite the state attorney's prior statement that Ayala spoke with people "on
all sides of the issue who were involved with the criminal justice system,"
Washington provided no indication that Ayala sought advice from any legal
experts outside of her own office who support the death penalty.

Ayala's March 16 news conference focused on Markeith Loyd, who is accused of
murder in the shooting deaths of Sade Dixon and Orlando police Lt. Debra
Clayton. Ayala said she would not pursue the death penalty against Loyd, before
adding that she would not seek death in any case that she prosecutes.

(source for both: clickorlando.com)






ALABAMA:

Ala. Senate approves nitrogen gas as execution option


The Alabama Senate on Tuesday voted to offer condemned inmates the option to
die by nitrogen suffocation, a method of execution untested on humans but which
supporters argue might provide a more humane method of death than other
methods.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose, passed the chamber 25 to
8 after majority Republicans ended debate on the measure. It goes to the House
of Representatives.

Like other states, Alabama faces challenges carrying out executions by lethal
injection, its main method since 2002. The state has struggled to obtain
supplies of sedatives needed for the procedure, and the current drug used -
midazolam - has been criticized for not providing sufficient sedation to
protect against the pain of the remaining two drugs, which paralyze the muscles
and stop the heart.

Media witnesses to the execution of Ronald Bert Smith last December said Smith
gasped and coughed for 13 minutes after receiving midazolam; the execution took
34 minutes. Smith's attorneys said it showed "he was not anesthetized at any
point during the agonizingly long procedure."

Nitrogen hypoxia would involve placing a mask on a condemned inmate, or putting
the individual in a chamber. The oxygen available would be replaced by
nitrogen, resulting in death. Oklahoma approved it as an alternative execution
method in 2015. Mississippi recently approved it as an alternative method.

Pittman argued nitrogen hypoxia -- in which an inmate, covered with a mask or
secured in a chamber, has their oxygen supply replaced with nitrogen -- could
provide a more humane method of execution.

"It leads to quick unconsciousness, (and) death without any residual issues
with carbon monoxide," he said.

While executions by gas chamber occurred until 1999, the method typically
involved the use of hydrogen cyanide. As with other execution methods, gas
became controversial for long or drawn-out executions; witnesses said Jimmy Lee
Gray, executed by gas in Mississippi in 1983, was seen smashing his head into
an iron bar to achieve unconsciousness.

Nitrogen hypoxia has been used to euthanize animals, though guidance from the
American Veterinary Medical Association recommends it chiefly for birds and
encourages the use of a sedative if used on larger animals. But no state has
carried out an execution using the method.

"As with a number of the proposed execution methods, it will involve human
experimentation," said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty
Information Center in Washington, D.C., an anti-death penalty group. "It's
obviously unethical to conduct experiments. It has not been used in
involuntarily taking someone's life."

The proposal is an option; under the law, the primary method of execution would
remain lethal injection. Inmates can also choose death by electric chair. If
all 3 methods were found unconstitutional, the bill authorizes the Department
of Corrections to employ a constitutional method of execution, such as firing
squad.

Democrats objected to the bill.

"The (method) that has been passed has not been tested . . . we don't know what
it's going to cost us," said Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro.

Pittman's bill initially would have allowed inmates to choose death by firing
squad, but Pittman replaced it in a Senate committee earlier this month, saying
hypoxia would be more humane.

The bill requires the Alabama Department of Corrections to develop the methods
of nitrogen execution.

The Senate also approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster,
that would require condemned inmates appealing their sentence to raise
collateral issues like the effectiveness of counsel at the same time they make
their direct appeal of their sentence. The collateral issues, known as a Rule
32 appeal, are currently raised after direct appeal. The effect of the change,
if passed into law, would shorten the appeals process on death sentences.

(source: Montgomery Advertiser)

********************

Senate votes to allow execution by nitrogen gas


Alabama could become the 3rd state to allow death row inmates to be executed by
nitrogen gas - an execution method that has so far never been used - under a
bill approved Tuesday by the Alabama Senate.

The Alabama Senate voted 25-8 to add nitrogen gas to lethal injection and the
electric chair as allowable methods of execution in the state. The bill now
moves to the Alabama House.

"No state has carried out an execution using nitrogen hypoxia," said Robert
Dunham of the Death Penalty Information Center. He said Mississippi and
Oklahoma also allow execution by nitrogen gas but have not used it.

The pace of executions has slowed in Alabama, partly because of ongoing legal
challenges to lethal injection methods.

Sen. Trip Pittman, the Republican bill sponsor, said Alabama needs another
execution method as lethal injection faces court challenges. Pittman had
originally proposed a firing squad as an execution method, but the bill was
changed in committee.

Under the bill, an inmate could choose to be put to death with nitrogen gas
instead of lethal injection. It would also allow the state corrections
commissioner to choose another constitutional execution method if
electrocution, lethal injection and nitrogen gas are all found
unconstitutional.

The legislation met with pushback from some lawmakers who called it
experimentation.

"It has never been tried before," said Sen. Vivian Davis Figures, D-Mobile.

(source: Tuscaloosa News)






LOUISIANA:

Murderer of 4-year old girl still trying to escape death penalty


A convicted murderer and rapist from Calcasieu Parish continues his efforts to
escape the death penalty.

In 2001, 4-year old Mary Jean Thigpen was playing outside when she was abducted
by Jason Reeves.

He took the girl to his sister's grave, sodomized the child, then stabbed her
14 times.

Reeves has been on death row at Angola since 2004, but made a trip to court in
Lake Charles on Tuesday for a post-conviction hearing.

He's now claiming his trial attorneys were ineffective and is asking for a new
trial - without the death penalty.

Calcasieu Parish Assistant District Attorney Carla Sigler, who prosecuted
Reeve, said at trial there was overwhelming evidence that Reeves was the
killer. His defense attorney did the job, and Reeves had a fair trial.

"This is a horrifying case involving the death and the gruesome sexual assault
of a 4-year old child. There's not a lawyer on earth that could have gotten
Jason Reeves off," she said.

Sigler said between legal proceedings and incarceration, we, the taxpayers,
have already spent close to $1 million on Reeves.

She added his appeals will likely continue for years.

(source: KPLC news)

*************************

LCCB hope to abolish Louisiana'a death penalty----It is time to affirm life
without exception: The death penalty is not acceptable (Statement issued April
18, 2017)


3 centuries ago in the year 1722 our state of Louisiana performed its 1st
recorded legal execution. Since that act we have dealt with this stain of the
death penalty carried out by our state in the names of its citizens. This
current legislative session allows us in a renewed way to move beyond this dark
reality of our state's history and toward a state that affirms life without
exception. Therefore the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops unequivocally
supports both Senator Claitor's SB 142 and Representatives Landry and Pylant's
HB 101.

Saint Pope John Paul II, in his historic papal encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The
Gospel of Life), discussed at great length the distinction between a culture of
life and a culture of death. In truth, our culture oftentimes mirrors a culture
of death rather than one of life. It is clear that the use of the death penalty
does not serve as an instrument to address the deep-rooted issues that are the
cause of widespread violent crime within our society. Instead it is a
"solution" that seduces us into believing that the taking of a life solved a
problem, and in fact forces us further into a culture of death.

Saint Pope John Paul II proclaims "that not even a murderer loses his personal
dignity, as God himself pledges to guarantee this. For this reason whoever
attacks human life, in some way attacks God himself" (Evangelium Vitae, #9). In
making this statement, Saint Pope John Paul II reminds us of our call to the
foundational theme of Catholic Social Teaching - The Life and Dignity of the
Human Person - and that we are to uphold human dignity which does not
discriminate between the innocent and guilty. Given that life is valued above
and beyond all else, we must advocate for an alternative to the death penalty.

Strong statements of Pope Francis echoes the foundational principles laid out
by Saint Pope John Paul II's, Evangelium Vitae. In a 2015 letter to the
president of the International Commission Against the Death Penalty, our Holy
Father stated that the death penalty "is an offense against the inviolability
of life and dignity of the human person, which contradicts God's plan for man
and society ... It does not render justice to victims, but rather fosters
vengeance. For the rule of law, the death penalty represents a failure, as it
obliges the state to kill in the name of justice. Justice can never be wrought
by killing a human being." To this end, we must ask ourselves whether or not
there is vengeance in our hearts. In many ways that which we fear - violence
itself - has forced us to become proponents of violence. Just as the pursuit of
justice should never be perverted by vengeance, fear should never darken the
ever-shining light of life.

We remain deeply aware of the pain and grief that victims suffer, especially
those who have lost a loved one through the crime of murder or crimes of
violence. We pledge to deepen our commitment to persons who have suffered such
violence, anguish and pain. Our opposition to the death penalty is not intended
in any way to diminish what victims and their families have suffered. On the
contrary it is a statement which affirms the lives of those lost and the
ultimate value of life in general. The stark reality is that capital punishment
fails to bring back life that has been lost. It does not provide healing,
reconciliation, or even peace to those impacted. Our merciful heavenly Father
does provide such things to us when we turn to Him and ask for his love to be
poured out onto us.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls us to recognize the balance that
must exist between a state which needs to protect its citizenry as well as the
appropriateness of the punishment it uses to do so. "If, however, non-lethal
means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor,
authority will limit itself to such means ... Today, ... the cases in which the
execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not
practically nonexistent" (CCC 2267). We believe that in Louisiana, a just
alternative to the death penalty already exists. In 1979, Louisiana adopted a
statute requiring all persons convicted of 1st degree murder to serve a life
sentence without benefit of parole if they were not executed for such crimes.
Therefore life imprisonment is the appropriate alternative given that it
reflects a culture of life by valuing life itself.

The Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops asks all men and women of good
faith, especially those members of the Louisiana legislature, to search their
heart in an effort to seek mercy and love to support the repeal of the death
penalty and aid in building a culture of life. We renew the call issued in our
1994 statement Violence in Our Society: Death is Not the Answer. "We must
believe in the all-powerful redemptive love of God which can change hearts,
convert people, and renew all things ... We must be a people who see the value
of a human life that others might think to be worthless. We must be a people
who give praise to the God of all possibilities whose powerful Spirit of Love
can renew the face of the earth." The time is upon us to affirm life without
exception here within our great state of Louisiana.

(source: diocesealex.org)






OHIO:

Appeals court upholds ruling against use of midazolam in Ohio executions


Ohio is responsible for many firsts in regards to the death penalty: it was the
1st state to suggest using the drug midazolam for execution and the 1st to
attempt using a single lethal injection drug protocol.

New to that list is the first state to have a ruling upheld in circuit courts
against midazolam, according to Robert Dunham, the executive director of the
Death Penalty Information Center.

On April 6, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit upheld a previous
preliminary injunction, barring the usage of midazolam in Ohio's lethal
injection drug protocol. The case was filed by 3 death row inmates who were
previously scheduled for execution. The injunction provides a temporary stay of
execution until the case is overturned or another drug protocol is found.

The decision follows a previous preliminary injunction from Magistrate Judge
Michael Merz of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio Jan.
26. That ruling followed a 5-day evidentiary hearing in which experts spoke on
the constitutionality of midazolam - a drug most frequently used for sedation.
The inmates argued that the drug violated their Eighth Amendment right against
cruel and unusual punishment. The Ohio courts agreed.

In the 6th Circuit's 2-1 ruling on April 6, Circuit Judge Karen Nelson Moore,
joined by Circuit Judge Jane Branstetter Stranch, wrote in her opinion that the
inmates claim that likelihood that midazolam violated the inmates' Eighth
Amendment right was "likely to succeed."

The opinion looked at the conclusions drawn during the evidentiary hearing in
January. One expert witness for the plaintiffs, Craig Stevens, a professor of
pharmacology at Oklahoma State University, concluded that the use of a
midazolam as the 1st drug in a 3-drug protocol "is highly likely to cause
intolerable pain and suffering," as it would not mask the effects from the 2nd
and 3rd drugs.

According to Deborah Denno, a professor at Fordham University's law school who
specializes in capital punishment issues, midazolam was originally Ohio's "plan
b" to a protocol that began with sodium thiopental. After sodium thiopental was
discontinued by the pharmaceutical manufacturer due to its usage in executions,
midazolam became the state's go-to.

"The fact that the state that first introduced this drug as a viable drug to
use for lethal injection has now held, or at least a lower court judge has held
it to be unconstitutional is quite a statement," Denno said.

Dunham agrees that the ruling is important, however he feels the importance
lies in what he calls the "fullest evidentiary hearing" on midazolam.

"This [hearing] was the 1st one that proceeded without artificial time
pressures from execution warrants so the court was able to take the time that
was necessary to fully hear the evidence," Dunham said, citing other hearings
in Alabama, Oklahoma, Virginia and the U.S. Supreme Court where they ruled in
favor of the state.

Much of the defense in the Ohio case rested on the 2015 Supreme Court decision
in Glossip v. Gross, where the court ruled that Oklahoma's use of midazolam did
not violate death row inmate Richard Glossip's Eighth Amendment right.

Denno, Dunham and the Court of Appeals agree that the Ohio decision benefited
from additional history and facts that the Supreme Court case did not have.

"There's nothing that the Ohio court did that is inconsistent with the United
States Supreme Court precedent, there's no legal judgment it made inconsistent
with what other courts have done, it's just the judgment was based on different
findings of fact," Dunham said.

Included in the Ohio evidentiary hearing was testimony surrounding the
executions of Christopher Brooks and Ronald Smith, both from Alabama.

The most recent court opinion found that Brooks' "heaving" and Smith's
"heaving, coughing, and flailing" during the execution "were attributable to
midazolam's inability to prevent the pain caused by paralytic drugs and
potassium chloride, rather than to other circumstances."

Ohio has a record of problematic executions. The ruling comes three years after
the execution of Dennis McGuire, which involved midazolam. McGuire was the 1st
inmate in the state to be executed with the state's then-new drug protocol of
midazolam and hydromorphone.

Witnesses from McGuire's execution testified during the evidentiary hearing
prior to Merz's ruling about the unusual events during his execution.

"I saw the stomach first. I saw what looked like a knot in his stomach ... and
his stomach was moving. I had not seen that before," said Gary Mohr, director
of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Alan Johnson, a reporter for The Columbus Dispatch also testified that McGuire
"began coughing, gasping, choking in a way that I had not seen before at any
execution. And I remember it because I relived it several times. Frankly, that
went on for 12 to 13 minutes."

Ohio is also the only state with an inmate who survived a lethal injection
execution. The Department of Corrections attempted to execute Romell Broom back
in 2009. He is still waiting on death row.

"Ohio has always been at the forefront but it's also had a lot of problems,
that's one reason it has been at the forefront of these execution methods,"
said Denno.

Denno, who notes that the state has already filed an appeal to the court's
opinion, says it's difficult to predict what the ruling will mean for the
state's injection drug protocol. She did say that typically states will find a
different drug rather than spend their time and resources on trials. Arizona
and Florida have already abandoned the drug.

It's also unclear what implications this ruling may have on other states and
courts - namely for 8 inmates in Arkansas. Eight inmates from Arkansas were
scheduled to be executed in a 10-day period starting April 17. One inmate,
Jason McGehee, was granted a stay of execution April 6.

On April 17 - the day Bruce Ward and Don Davis were to be executed - the
Arkansas Supreme Court issued stays of execution for them. The state then asked
the U.S. Supreme Court to step in, hoping that a ruling would allow the
executions to continue. Right before midnight, when the signed death warrants
would expire, the Supreme Court refused to step in and lift the stays.

As of April 18, there are still 5 more executions scheduled. There have been
several suits filed on behalf of the inmates. Part of the argument presented by
the lawyers is based on the constitutionality of midazolam.

"The difficulty in Arkansas is that like the proceedings in Oklahoma and in
Virginia and Alabama, they're taking place under death warrant so there's an
artificially pressed time period," Dunham said.

Karen Clifton of Catholics Mobilizing Network told NCR in a statement that
"particularly in regards to the scheduled executions in Arkansas, where the
state's supply of midazolam is serving as impetus for 7 executions in 10 days,
this ruling provides further objection to the use of the death penalty."

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hold a conference April 21 about a
re-hearing petition from the inmates. Denno is unsure how much the Ohio
decision will play into the court's decision, especially since Ohio is "not
going along with their holding, basically."

The ruling does not bar further executions in Ohio but does mean the state may
have to go back to the drawing board to find a new lethal injection protocol,
as state's choices and supplies dwindle.

Ultimately, Clifton feels the ruling called into question "lethal injection as
a humane way to carry out an execution."

"After this decision, we are once again faced with the question of the morality
of the death penalty in this country. As Pope Francis has said, there is 'no
humane way to kill another person.' This ruling provides one more reason why
the death penalty is a failed system that denies the dignity due to every human
person," Clifton said in her statement.

Dunham agrees, stating that this could be another step in removing midazolam as
an execution drug.

"The difficulties states have are that the pharmaceutical manufactures don't
want their medicines used in executions," he said. "So states have been looking
for non-anesthetics to perform an anesthetic function and that simply doesn't
work. That suggests that whatever happens from this point forward in the three
drug protocol is going to be inappropriate. At a minimum, it's going to be
human experimentation."

(source: National Catholic Reporter)






KENTUCKY:

Push in Rural Kentucky to Abolish Death Penalty


The push for multiple executions in Arkansas has shed a harsh light on the
death penalty in America, especially in the South, where capital punishment is
legal in every state including Kentucky.

Here in the Commonwealth, it's been 8/1/2 years since the last execution and
abolitionists say it's time to make life without parole the maximum sentence.
Rob Musick, a religion professor and chaplain at the University of Pikeville,
said there are several reasons why support is growing in rural Kentucky to make
the death penalty illegal.

"Specifically, when you use the idea of government waste of money," Musick
said, "oftentimes when the government is over-reaching into our lives, when the
government gets some things wrong."

Kentucky lawmakers repeatedly have rejected legislation to eliminate the death
penalty, including during this year's recently completed legislative session.

Musick is one of the volunteers who will staff the Kentucky Coalition to
Abolish the Death Penalty information booth at this year's Hillbilly Days. This
event, the state's 2nd largest festival, runs Thursday through Saturday in
Pikeville.

Musick said the reason he hears most from people who support the death penalty
is that execution is a deterrent to crime. He disagrees.

"I say, 'Well, if that were being the case'," Musick said, "'then why do we see
such an intense, violent crime-ridden country like ours where we have such gun
crimes and mass shootings? If that really were working, wouldn't we see such
less crime?'"

In 2011, the American Bar Association issued a report that found a myriad of
problems with the state's death-penalty system, including its cost and
duration. A recent poll found that when informed of those problems, 64 % of
Kentuckians supported making life without parole the maximum sentence. So why
hasn't the Kentucky Legislature acted?

"It has a lot to do with political courage and people just naming the elephant
in the room," Musick said. "We know there are some key members of the House and
Senate that are actually against the death penalty, but they don't want to put
themselves out there yet, until they know it's a slam dunk."

(source: publicnewsservice.org)


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