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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 -…

U.S. Supreme Court rejects Alabama's request to vacate Vernon Madison's stay of execution

Vernon Madison
Vernon Madison
BREAKING: U.S. Supreme Court in 4-4 vote rejects Alabama's request to vacate Vernon Madison's stay of execution, meaning that Mr. Madison will not be executed as scheduled tonight.

The United States Supreme Court has upheld a lower court's order staying the execution of Alabama death row inmate Vernon Madison.

This morning, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals postponed the execution, which was scheduled to take place today.

EJI lawyers asked the court to stay Mr. Madison's execution because he is incompetent to be executed. 

As a result of multiple strokes over the last year, and other serious medical conditions, Mr. Madison suffers from vascular dementia, which has left him unable to rationally understand why the State is seeking to execute him. 

Mr. Madison now speaks in a slurred manner, is legally blind, and can no longer walk independently as a consequence of damage to his brain.

It is unconstitutional to execute an individual who is mentally incompetent. The Eleventh Circuit ordered a stay so that it could properly consider the claim that his execution would violate the constitution.

The State of Alabama asked the Supreme Court to overturn the Eleventh Circuit's order, but the Court instead upheld the lower court's order.

Source: EJI, May 12, 2016

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