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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…

Texas: Former death row inmate seeks $2 million in state compensation

Alfred Brown was released from the Harris County Jail, Texas, Texas on June 8, 2015 (Photo: Houston Chronicle)
Alfred Brown was released from the Harris County Jail, Texas,
Texas on June 8, 2015 (Photo: Houston Chronicle)
Former death row inmate Alfred Dewayne Brown filed a request Monday for almost $2 million dollars in state compensation saying he spent more than 12 years behind bars because he was wrongfully convicted.

State senator Rodney Ellis and lawyers for Brown said the 33-year-old is eligible for a lump sum of $973,589 plus an annuity in that amount to be paid annually for the rest of his life.

Brown was freed from prison last year, and his case has been dismissed but no official has said he is "actually innocent."

However under the Tim Cole Act, a state law providing compensation for the wrongfully convicted, Brown fits the definition of "exonerated," according to his lawyers.

"No 'magic words' are required anymore," said Neal Manne, one of Brown's attorneys. "The magic is in the fact that you're released."

In a red and white plaid button down shirt and jeans, Brown said little Monday except that he is working in construction and enjoying spending days with his family.

"I'm good," he said. "Just staying around family."

Brown spent 12 years and 62 days in jail, including a decade on death row after being convicted of capital murder in the fatal shooting of officer Charles Clark and clerk, Alfredia Jones during the robbery of a check-cashing store in 2003.

The dismissal still rankles Houston police officers who have said, through their union officials, they continue to believe Brown was part of a gang of 3 men involved in the check cashing store robbery turned double murder. Clerk Alfredia Jones was killed in the shooting.

Brown was released from jail June 8 after a police detective came forward with telephone records in the case that could have aided Brown's defense. The records might have bolstered Brown's alibi that he spent the day at his girlfriend's home. The state's highest court reversed the conviction and sent the case back to Houston.

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson decided last year that there was not enough credible evidence in the case for a re-trial and dismissed the charges, freeing Brown.

That course of events is enough to show that he is presumed innocent, his lawyers said. The state comptroller will be in charge of distributing the money and other benefits, including free healthcare and free college tuition.

Source: Houston Chronicle, Feb. 22, 2016

Related content:
  • Louisiana: Justice still elusive for exonerated death row inmate Glenn Ford, April 1, 2015. The only thing Glenn Ford has received from the state of Louisiana after spending 30 years on death row as an innocent man is a $20 debit card. After being exonerated of murder last year, he walked out of Angola prison with $20.24; the 24 cents was the money left in his prison account. Mr. Glenn died of cancer shortly after his release from death row. Since his release, Ford had been fighting the state for compensation. Restitution for wrongful imprisonment is not a given in Louisiana; Ford is eligible for a maximum of $330,000. Prisoners who are wrongly incarcerated in Louisiana not only have to petition for compensation from the state, they have to prove they are innocent of the crime for which they were convicted...
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