Showing posts from June, 2015


U.S. | Execution by nitrogen hypoxia doesn’t seem headed for widespread adoption as bills fall short and nitrogen producers object

The day after Alabama carried out the first-known US execution using nitrogen gas, its attorney general sent a clear message to death penalty states that might want to follow suit: “Alabama has done it, and now so can you.” Indeed, in the weeks immediately following the January execution of Kenneth Smith, it appeared a handful of states were listening, introducing bills that would adopt the method known as nitrogen hypoxia or a similar one. Officials behind each framed the legislation as an alternative method that could help resume executions where they had long been stalled.

Islamic State beheads four for sorcery in Syria, including two women

Islamic State (IS) has beheaded two women in eastern Syria, the first time the jihadist group has decapitated female civilians, activists say. The women were killed along with their husbands in the city of Deir al-Zour and the town of al-Mayadeen, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. All four were accused of sorcery. IS has previously decapitated the bodies of Kurdish female fighters killed in battle. The group has also beheaded men for witchcraft in Iraq. The group's extreme interpretation of Islamic law has also seen gay men thrown off buildings and women stoned for adultery . Last week, IS militants in Syria hanged two youths from a beam by their wrists after accusing them of not fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The killing of people for sorcery is not unique to IS. The authorities in Saudi Arabia have also beheaded both men and women on similar charges . Source: BBC News , June 30, 2015 Report an error, an omis

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Controversial Execution Procedure

The U.S. Supreme Court Justices Justices Breyer and Ginsburg: 'It is highly likely' the death penalty is unconstitutional The Supreme Court's decision on Monday to uphold a controversial lethal injection procedure used by Oklahoma was reached because the 5 justices in the majority were not swayed by arguments that a particular sedative caused executions that could be deemed cruel and unusual punishment. But in 1 of the dissents, Justice Stephen G. Breyer said he disagreed with the decision before moving on to a much larger question: Is the death penalty itself unconstitutional? "I believe it highly likely that the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment," Breyer wrote. "At the very least, the Court should call for full briefing on the basic question." In a 41-page dissent - longer than the majority opinion authored by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. - Breyer, who was joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, wrote that country's us

Death Penalty Abolitionists Optimistic After SCOTUS Ruling

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that the use of midazolam in lethal injections does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment , despite its use in a spate of botched executions. But death penalty abolitionists remain hopeful in the bigger fight to end capital punishment altogether. Handing down the majority opinion in Glossip v. Gross , Justice Samuel Alito asserted states must have access to means of execution: "Our decisions in this area have been animated in part by the recognition that because it is settled that capital punishment is constitutional, "[i]t necessarily follows that there must be a [constitutional] means of carrying it out." And because some risk of pain is inherent in any method of execution, we have held that the Constitution does not require the avoidance of all risk of pain. After all, while most humans wish to die a painless death, many do not have that good fortune. Holding that the Eighth Amendment demands the elimination of essen

California: high court ruling could resume executions

San Quentin's brand new execution chamber as seen from press room A divided U.S. Supreme Court on Monday reinforced the ability of states to rely on lethal injection to carry out executions, handing down a ruling out of Oklahoma that unlocks California's long dormant effort to revive the death penalty in this state. The Supreme Court's decision triggers what promises to be a tangled, prolonged legal process that could ultimately lead to a resumption of executions in the Golden State -- although it could still be years before the doors reopen in San Quentin's death chamber. Under a recent settlement with families of murder victims, California prison officials agreed to propose a new single-drug execution method within 120 days of the Supreme Court's ruling in the Oklahoma legal challenge. It would mark the 1st progress in years toward devising a new execution procedure at San Quentin, where California has not executed a condemned killer in nearly a deca

U.S.: Is the Death Penalty Constitutional?

An interesting thing happened on the way to Monday morning’s  predictable Supreme Court ruling upholding Oklahoma’s use of a controversial lethal-injection drug. The 5-to-4 decision rejected a claim by three death-row inmates that use of the sedative midazolam would put them at risk of severe pain. It also ruled preposterously that in order to succeed the inmates had to show that there is an alternative manner of execution that is significantly less painful but readily available. Justice Samuel Alito Jr., writing for the majority, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing the main dissent, battled bitterly over both of these issues. But it was Justice Stephen Breyer’s dissent, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, that stood out above the usual noise: For 46 pages, a Supreme Court justice made the case that the death penalty most likely violates the Constitution. In 1994, Justice Harry Blackmun announced that after a quarter century on the court he had given up on cap

Exonerated convict Glenn Ford succumbs to lung cancer at 65

Glenn Ford Glenn Ford, who spent nearly 30 years on Angola's death row for a murder that prosecutors eventually conceded he did not commit, died in New Orleans early Monday (June 29), supporters announced. He was 65. Ford learned he had lung cancer shortly after his release from Angola on March 11, 2014 . A news release from Ford's supporters said he died at 2:11 a.m., having been "surrounded by friends, loved ones and family in recent days." Ford, who was born in Shreveport on Oct. 22, 1949, was convicted of the 1983 murder of 56-year-old Isadore Rozeman, a Shreveport jeweler and watchmaker for whom Ford had done occasional yard work. Ford had always denied killing Rozeman, and on March 10, 2014, he was exonerated of the crime when the state vacated his conviction. State District Judge Ramona Emanuel voided Ford's conviction and sentence based on new information corroborating his claim that he was not present or involved in Rozeman's death,

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Use of Execution Drug

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled on Monday against three death row inmates who had sought to bar the use of an execution drug they said risked causing excruciating pain. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote the majority opinion in the 5-to-4 decision. He was joined by the court’s four more conservative justices. The drug, the sedative midazolam, played a part in three long and apparently painful executions last year. It was used in an effort to render inmates unconscious before they were injected with other, severely painful drugs. Four condemned inmates in Oklahoma challenged the use of the drug, saying it did not reliably render the person unconscious and so violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Lower courts disagreed. Oklahoma and several other states started to use midazolam in executions after manufacturers in Europe and the United States refused to sell them the barbiturates that were traditionally used to produce unconsciousne