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States to try new ways of executing prisoners. Their latest idea? Opioids.

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The synthetic painkiller fentanyl has been the driving force behind the nation’s opioid epidemic, killing tens of thousands of Americans last year in overdoses. Now two states want to use the drug’s powerful properties for a new purpose: to execute prisoners on death row.
As Nevada and Nebraska push for the country’s first fentanyl-assisted executions, doctors and death penalty opponents are fighting those plans. They have warned that such an untested use of fentanyl could lead to painful, botched executions, comparing the use of it and other new drugs proposed for lethal injection to human experimentation.
States are increasingly pressed for ways to carry out the death penalty because of problems obtaining the drugs they long have used, primarily because pharmaceutical companies are refusing to supply their drugs for executions.
The situation has led states such as Florida, Ohio and Oklahoma to turn to novel drug combinations for executions. Mississippi legalized nitrogen gas this s…

Saudi put to death in kingdom's 151st execution of year

Public beheading in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public beheading in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
A Saudi convicted of murder was executed on Tuesday, in the 151st death sentence carried out this year in the conservative Muslim kingdom.

Sultan al-Dosari was executed in the eastern province of Ihsa after his conviction for stabbing to death another man, the interior ministry said.

According to AFP tallies, his case brings to 151 the number of locals and foreigners put to death this year, against 87 for all of 2014.

Amnesty International says the number of executions in Saudi Arabia this year is the highest for 2 decades, since 192 people were put to death in 1995.

The toll has rarely exceeded 90 annually in recent years, it said.

Reasons for the surge are unclear.

Over the past few weeks, however, there has been a marked drop in executions, all of which are reported by the official Saudi Press Agency.

Saudi executions are usually carried out by beheading with a sword.

Rights experts have raised concerns about the fairness of trials in the kingdom, where the interior ministry says the death penalty is a deterrent to crime.

Amnesty says Saudi Arabia had the world's 3rd-highest number of executions last year, after China and Iran.

Under the kingdom's strict Islamic legal code, murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape, homosexuality and apostasy are all punishable by death.

Source: Agence France-Presse, December 15, 2015

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