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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…

Pfizer Ban on Execution Drugs Won't Impede Death Penalty in Indiana

State's death row inmates still have years of appeals ahead; state has said it has stockpile of needed chemicals

The world's largest pharmaceutical company is blocking the use of its drugs for executions. But it's unclear how that will affect Indiana.

Pfizer was the last FDA-approved drugmaker which still sold the chemicals used for lethal injection. That's the only execution method allowed by Indiana law -- it would take legislative action to bring back the electric chair or some other method.

But Indiana said 2 years ago it had a stockpile of execution drugs, and the state hasn't executed anyone since. 

The Department of Correction said then it had even assisted other states who were having difficulty as the market tightened.

Some states have turned to less-regulated compounding pharmacies, or tried to import drugs from overseas.

Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Chairman Mike Young (R-Indianapolis) says at some point, legislators should probably authorize an alternate method. He says no one anticipated supply-chain problems when the state switched to lethal injection in 1995. But he says there's no rush. None of the 12 killers on Indiana's death row is anywhere close to an execution date -- only 2 have progressed as far as a federal appeals court. And Young says any attempt to tweak the law would likely trigger a fierce debate over whether Indiana should abolish the death penalty entirely.

Indiana hasn't executed anyone since 2009, when Matthew Wrinkles of Evansville was put to death for the murders of his wife and 2 of his in-laws.

Source: WIBC news, May 17, 2016

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