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Capital Punishment in the United States Explained

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In our Explainer series, Fair Punishment Project lawyers help unpackage some of the most complicated issues in the criminal justice system. We break down the problems behind the headlines - like bail, civil asset forfeiture, or the Brady doctrine - so that everyone can understand them. Wherever possible, we try to utilize the stories of those affected by the criminal justice system to show how these laws and principles should work, and how they often fail. We will update our Explainers monthly to keep them current. Read our updated explainer here.
To beat the clock on the expiration of its lethal injection drug supply, this past April, Arkansas tried to execute 8 men over 1 days. The stories told in frantic legal filings and clemency petitions revealed a deeply disturbing picture. Ledell Lee may have had an intellectual disability that rendered him constitutionally ineligible for the death penalty, but he had a spate of bad lawyers who failed to timely present evidence of this claim -…

The Execution of Joseph Wood

Joseph Wood
Joseph Wood
An execution of a man in Arizona with a new cocktail of drugs was supposed to take about 10 minutes. It took almost two hours, the longest execution in U.S. history

The following is a script from "The Execution of Joseph Wood" which aired on Nov. 29, 2015. Bill Whitaker is the correspondent. Ira Rosen and Habiba Nosheen, producers.

In July of last year, Joseph Wood was strapped to a gurney in Arizona's death chamber. His execution, by lethal injection with a new cocktail of drugs was supposed to take about 10 minutes. It took almost two hours -- the longest execution in U.S. history.

When lethal injections were introduced in 1977, they were supposed to be a more humane form of capital punishment. Instead the process has become a messy testing ground for unproven, toxic drugs.

At the heart of the problem: pharmaceutical companies have banned the use of their drugs for capital punishment -- partly under pressure from death-penalty opponents. Without access to the lethal agents they've used for decades, the states are turning to new, untried drugs.

And that's creating an execution crisis in America, making it harder and harder to ensure that when a state decides to end a life, things don't go horribly awry, as they did in the execution of Joseph Wood.

Arizona is one of 31 states to employ capital punishment. Cameras aren't allowed here, but this Department of Corrections video takes us inside Death Row, where more than 100 inmates are awaiting execution by lethal injection.

On July 23, 2014, it was Joseph Wood's turn. Wood had been convicted of murdering his former girlfriend and her father.

At 1:52 p.m., Arizona executioners began pumping an experimental combination of drugs into Wood's veins. They had never before used these drugs for execution, but they expected Wood to die within minutes.

Click here to read the full transcript/the full article




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Source: CBS news, November 29, 2015

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