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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…

Cannes Festival entry focuses on Taiwan death penalty debate

A prize-winning Taiwanese film exploring the use of the death penalty will screen at the Cannes Film Festival later this month, adding to recent increased debate about the island's use of capital punishment.

Leon Lee's 23-minute film titled "The Day To Choose" puts its main character, a lawyer and strong opponent of the death penalty, in the difficult position of choosing how to punish the murderers of his wife.

Taiwan retains the death penalty despite calls to abolish it in line with international practice, but some have argued it is necessary in extreme cases such as the beheading of a four-year-old girl on a Taipei street in March.

Lee, a student in the German language department at Soochow University, developed the film with his producer Cheng Kuang-yu, based on a script that Cheng had long wanted to realize.

"What I really want to discuss in this short film is not only the issue of capital punishment, but how much a human will stick to (his or her ideals) when faced with adversity," Lee told Reuters on the set of the film.

The picture will screen in the short film corner at the prestigious annual Cannes festival in France on May 11-22 and has already won "Best Drama Short Film" at the 2016 Universe Multicultural Film Festival in California last month.

Source: Reuters, May 9, 2016

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