Innocent on Death Row? New Evidence Casts Doubt on Convictions

Rodney Reed’s death sentence was suspended. But researchers say other current cases raise similar doubt about the guilt of the accused.
The number of executions in the United States remains close to nearly a three-decade low. And yet the decline has not prevented what those who closely track the death penalty see as a disturbing trend: a significant number of cases in which prisoners are being put to death, or whose execution dates are near, despite questions about their guilt.
Rodney Reed, who came within days of execution in Texas before an appeals court suspended his death sentence on Friday, has been the most high-profile recent example, receiving support from Texas lawmakers of both parties and celebrities like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West, who urged a new examination of the evidence.
Mr. Reed has long maintained that he did not commit the 1996 murder for which he was convicted. And in recent months, new witnesses came forward pointing toward another possible suspect: the dead…

Alabama lawmaker supports return to electric chair

A state legislator wants Alabama to resume executions using the electric chair since drug shortages have brought lethal injections to halt. 

State Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville, told The Decatur Daily in a story published Friday he favors electrocutions because of continuing delays obtaining drugs used to perform lethal injections. 

With the state out of needed drugs, Greer said he would talk Monday with prison officials and the Alabama District Attorneys Association about the possibility of bringing back the electric chair as the state's main execution method. 

Alabama switched from electrocution to lethal injection as its primary execution method 12 years ago. Condemned inmates can still ask to die in the chair, but none has. 

"You'd have to be dumb to choose the electric chair," said Greer. 

Leaders have said the state probably won't be able to resume lethal injections before spring 2015 at the earliest. Greer said he would sponsor legislation to make the switch back to the electric chair. 

Gov. Robert Bentley has said he opposes switching back to electrocution, which would require new legislation and provide defense lawyers with new avenues for appeals. 

Alabama is among the death penalty states facing chronic shortages of execution drugs because European manufacturers banned their export for use in executions and U.S. makers are putting restrictions on their products for use in capital punishment. 

Earlier this year, Greer proposed legislation that would have made confidential the names of the lethal-injection drug suppliers. That measure failed, but legislative leaders say a bill offering limited protection to pharmaceutical companies could pass next year. 

Alabama's death row - located at 3 separate prisons partly because of the large number of inmates awaiting execution - now holds 195 inmates. Of those, 16 have exhausted their appeals. 

Greer said he would sponsor legislation to make the switch back to the electric chair. 

Source: Associated Press, August 15, 2014 

Alabama lawmaker: executions on hold for 16 death row inmates

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – An Alabama lawmaker says it will be next spring before the state can resume executing death row inmates.

Republican state Sen. Cam Ward, a top lawmaker on prison issues, says that will be the earliest that lawmakers will be able to pass new legislation allowing Alabama to receive drugs used for executions. Ward tells The TimesDaily (http://bit.ly/1qN4IRM) that the state is “basically out of chemicals.”

He said pharmaceutical companies are refusing to sell Alabama more drugs until they can get some type of protection or “immunity.” Republican Rep. Lynn Greer, who proposed legislation during the last session to keep the names of drug suppliers confidential, has said the companies fear lawsuits and backlash from death penalty opponents.

There are 16 death row inmates who have exhausted appeals and await execution.

Source: The Associated Press, July 31, 2014

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