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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 -…

Louisiana: Judge to decide if death-row inmates get air conditioning

Louisiana's death row
Louisiana's death row
A federal judge will decide whether to order a Louisiana prison to install air conditioning for inmates on death row, according to the Associated Press.

Prison officials at Louisiana State Penitentiary have for three years maintained that ice, fans and a cold shower are enough to protect the inmates from heat and humidity.

The request for air conditioning came from three death-row inmates with medical problems.

U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson on Friday questioned why prison officials won’t spent the $1 million to install air conditioning for death-row inmates, especially when the state has already spent more than that to fight it in court.

A hearing is scheduled for June 15 for testimony about the effectiveness of the heat-control measures.

Jackson ruled in 2013 that it is unconstitutional to keep inmates where the heat index exceeds 88 degrees. An appeals court in 2015 rules prisoners could get heat relief without air conditioning and the state crafted a “heat remediation plan” involving cold showers, fans and ice chests. Lawyers for the inmates say the plan isn’t working, though.

Temperatures this year have already exceeded the 99-degree threshold.

“One must wonder: Is this really what the state wants to do?” Jackson asked. “It just seems so unnecessary.”

Source: The Hill, Jessie Hellmann, May 21, 2016

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