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Did Texas execute an innocent man? Film revisits a haunting question.

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Texans will have an opportunity to revisit a question that should haunt anyone who believes in the integrity of our criminal justice system: Did our state execute an innocent man? 
The new film “Trial by Fire” tells the true story of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was sentenced to death for setting a fire to his home in Corsicana that killed his three young daughters in 1991. The film is based on an investigative story by David Grann that appeared in the New Yorker in 2009, five years after Willingham was executed over his vociferous protestations of innocence.
In my experience of serving 8 years on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and 4 years as a state district judge in Travis County, the Willingham case stands out to me for many of the same reasons it stood out to filmmaker Edward Zwick, who calls it a veritable catalogue of everything that’s wrong with the criminal justice system and, especially, the death penalty. False testimony, junk science, a jailhouse informant, and ineffe…

Lethal drug shortage offers Vietnam death-row prisoners reprieve

(Reuters) - Hundreds of death-row prisoners in Vietnam have been given a reprieve of sorts due to a shortage of the drug used for lethal injections, a newspaper said on Tuesday.

Death by firing squad was replaced by lethal injections to reduce suffering last July - but police have failed to execute anyone since.

"In the past year, the execution of more than 400 inmates has not been able to go ahead. More than 100 of them have completed all the paperwork," Deputy Police Minister Dang Van Hieu was quoted by Tuesday's Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper as saying.

"Their execution awaits the drug, which is not available yet." He said imports of the unspecified drug "had proved difficult".

The newspaper did not give any suggestion of how the problem could be solved.

The American state of Oklahoma, which executes more prisoners per capita than any other state, said this month it had only one remaining dose of European-made pentobarbital, a key drug used to kill condemned prisoners.

One reason the state had run so low in stocks was because of a ban on the sale of drugs for such purposes by the European Union, which opposes the death penalty.

Source: Reuters, May 28, 2012

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