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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…

Scalia cast key vote in Oklahoma death penalty case

The late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was a reliable conservative vote on any number of topics the court took up during his 30-year tenure, including a case last year dealing with Oklahoma's death penalty.

Scalia died Saturday at a ranch resort in west Texas, the San Antonio Express News reports.

In 2015, Scalia was 1 of 5 justices who sided with Oklahoma in Glossip v. Gross, in which attorneys for three Oklahoma death row inmates argued that the sedative the state used in its execution protocol could lead to an unconstitutional level of pain before death.

The court rejected that argument by a 5-4 vote. 

Writing in a concurrent opinion, Scalia was characteristically colorful, taking Justice Stephen Breyer to task for arguing that capital punishment ought to be ended entirely. 

Breyer's dissenting opinion was, Scalia wrote, "full of internal contradictions and (it must be said) gobbledy-gook."

"A vocal minority of the Court, waving over their heads a ream of the most recent abolitionist studies (a superabundant genre) as though they have discovered the lost folios of Shakespeare, insist that now, at long last, the death penalty must be abolished for good. Mind you, not once in the history of the American republic has this Court ever suggested that the death penalty is categorically impermissible."

Source: The Oklahoman, Feb. 14, 2016

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