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Capital Punishment in the United States Explained

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In our Explainer series, Fair Punishment Project lawyers help unpackage some of the most complicated issues in the criminal justice system. We break down the problems behind the headlines - like bail, civil asset forfeiture, or the Brady doctrine - so that everyone can understand them. Wherever possible, we try to utilize the stories of those affected by the criminal justice system to show how these laws and principles should work, and how they often fail. We will update our Explainers monthly to keep them current. Read our updated explainer here.
To beat the clock on the expiration of its lethal injection drug supply, this past April, Arkansas tried to execute 8 men over 1 days. The stories told in frantic legal filings and clemency petitions revealed a deeply disturbing picture. Ledell Lee may have had an intellectual disability that rendered him constitutionally ineligible for the death penalty, but he had a spate of bad lawyers who failed to timely present evidence of this claim -…

Virginia legislature approves bill reimplimenting electric chair

The Virginia General Assembly on Friday approved a bill [HB 815 materials] that will allow for the implementation of the electric chair if lethal injection drugs are not readily available. 

Virginia has faced issues with obtaining lethal injection drugs as some pharmaceutical companies have declined to supply the necessary materials. 

According to the new bill, the Virginia Department of Corrections must make "reasonable efforts" to obtain lethal injection materials before utilizing the electric chair. 

The bill will now be sent to Governor Terry McAuliffe desk to be signed or vetoed. 

Currently, Virgina has 7 inmates on death row.

Capital punishment remains a controversial issue in the US and worldwide. 

In February the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit rejected a Georgia death row inmate's legal challenge to the death penalty. In January Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood stated that he plans to ask lawmakers to approve the firing squad, electrocution or nitrogen gas as alternate methods of execution if the state prohibits lethal injection. 

The US Supreme Court in January ruled in Kansas v. Carr that a jury in a death penalty case does not need to be advised that mitigating factors, which can lessen the severity of a criminal act, do not need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt like aggravating factors.

Source: The Jurist, March 14, 2016

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