FEATURED POST

Why Texas’ ‘death penalty capital of the world’ stopped executing people

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Since the Supreme Court legalized capital punishment in 1976, Harris County, Texas, has executed 126 people. That's more executions than every individual state in the union, barring Texas itself.
Harris County's executions account for 23 percent of the 545 people Texas has executed. On the national level, the state alone is responsible for more than a third of the 1,465 people put to death in the United States since 1976.
In 2017, however, the county known as the "death penalty capital of the world" and the "buckle of the American death belt" executed and sentenced to death a remarkable number of people: zero.
This is the first time since 1985 that Harris County did not execute any of its death row inmates, and the third year in a row it did not sentence anyone to capital punishment either.
The remarkable statistic reflects a shift the nation is seeing as a whole.
“The practices that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is following are also signifi…

Arizona Wants To Speed Up A Death Penalty Case Because Its Drugs Are Expiring

Arizona's supply of midazolam expires at the end of May. The state is hoping that a challenge brought by death row inmates can be wrapped up with enough time to carry out the executions.

Arizona is trying to carry out more executions after a brief moratorium brought about after the state carried out the longest execution in American history.

In that execution, Joseph Wood took nearly two hours to die, and witnesses reported him gasping during that time.

After the state commissioned a review, U.S. District Judge Neil Wake is allowing a lawsuit brought by five death row inmates challenging the state's new methods to go forward.

The problem for Arizona: They need the case to wrap up soon because their sedative expires at the end of May.

At a status hearing on Tuesday, Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Sparks said the state was having problems getting more.

The judge seemed receptive to speeding up the case, saying he would be "expecting accelerated discovery."

As of yet, the inmates haven't even filed their new complaint yet - but summarized it at the hearing as asking for more transparency and asking that the 2nd drug be removed.

The 2nd drug in a 3-drug protocol is a paralytic, and is used to cover any movement or twitching by the inmate. The inmates seem prepared to argue that it's a "cosmetic" drug used only to mask any pain the inmate may be feeling due to the other drugs.

The inmates' attorneys were only informed of the drug's expiration date on the day of the status hearing, and said the case shouldn't be in "crisis litigation" to meet the May deadline.

5 inmates brought the lawsuit, and the case would have to wrap up fairly quickly for the state to be able to execute all 5 of the inmates. Executions take considerable amounts of planning, and as a result, states try to space out when they occur.

In Oklahoma, for example, when the state had a 43-minute botched execution in 2014, officials and executioners there blamed scheduling 2 executions for 1 day as a big reason why things went wrong.

The state didn't offer a date to the judge on when the case would have to be wrapped up to carry out the executions, and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich's office didn't respond to a request when asked by BuzzFeed News.

The shortest time frame the state has carried out 5 executions was in 2012. But in that case, the 5 executions took place over a span of 5 1/2 months.

Source: BuzzFeed News, January 15, 2016

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