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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Mississippi House proposes firing squad as execution method

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Mississippi House wants to allow the state prison system to execute prisoners using a firing squad if officials decide lethal injection is too expensive or unavailable.

The House amended Senate Bill 2237 Friday before passing it 80-39, sending it back to the Senate for more work.

The measure makes secret the names of prison employees at an execution and the pharmacy providing lethal drugs.

It also makes secret the names of family members of the prisoner or crime victim.

First Amendment advocates say that measure unconstitutionally restrains free speech.

Supporters say the measure protects those involved in executions from harassment by people who oppose the death penalty.

Attorney General Jim Hood has asked lawmakers to approve alternate execution methods including the firing squad, electrocution and the use of nitrogen gas.

Source: The Associated Press, March 25, 2016

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