FEATURED POST

Anthony Ray Hinton Spent Almost 30 Years on Death Row. Now He Has a Message for White America.

Image
Anthony Ray Hinton was mowing the lawn at his mother's house in 1985 when Alabama police came to arrest him for 2 murders he did not commit. One took place when he was working the night shift at a Birmingham warehouse. Yet the state won a death sentence, based on 2 bullets it falsely claimed matched a gun found at his mother's home. In his powerful new memoir, "The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row," Hinton describes how racism and a system stacked against the poor were the driving forces behind his conviction. He also writes about the unique and unexpected bonds that can form on death row, and in particular about his relationship with Henry Hays, a former Klansman sentenced to death for a notorious lynching in 1981. Hays died in the electric chair in 1997 - 1 of 54 people executed in Alabama while Hinton was on death row.
After almost 30 years, Hinton was finally exonerated in 2015, thanks to the Equal Justice Initiative, or EJI. On April 27…

Fifth Circuit Upholds Lethal Injection for Texas Death Row Inmates

Fifth Circuit Upholds Lethal Injection for Texas Death Row Inmates
"Prisoners do not have an equal protection right under the U.S. Constitution's
Fourteenth Amendment to have the compounded drug retested before its use in
their executions."
Denying five death row inmates' bid for a stay of execution, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently ruled that Texas' current form of execution by lethal injection does not violate the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The five condemned Texas prisoners are the latest to challenge the lethal injection form of execution in the United States. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Glossip v. Gross that the three-drug cocktail Oklahoma uses to execute prisoners did not violate their Eighth Amendment rights.

In 2012, Texas adopted its current execution protocol: a single, five-gram dose of pentobarbital to induce death. The state had previously purchased pentobarbital from a Danish company that later refused to sell the drug to states that execute by lethal injection. In response, Texas began purchasing pentobarbital that is compounded by pharmacies.

Even though 32 people have been executed in the state using compounded pentobarbital without incident, the five Texas prisoners requested stays of execution, alleging the compounded drug still posed a risk of unnecessary pain and should be retested before their executions.

In a Sept. 12 decision in Wood v. Collier, Fifth Circuit Judge Patrick Higginbotham noted that when pentobarbital is the sole drug used to execute, unconsciousness precedes death. He also concluded that the five prisoners did not have an equal protection right under the U.S. Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment to have the compounded drug retested before its use in their executions.

"However one kneads the protean language of equal protection jurisprudence, the inescapable reality is that these prisoners have not demonstrated that a failure to retest brings the unnecessary pain forbidden by the Eight Amendment," Higginbotham wrote. "Attempting to bridge this shortfall in their submission with equal protection language, while creative, brings an argument that is ultimately no more than word play."

While he denied their stays of execution, Higginbotham did note the five prisoners have spent decades residing on death row—something that gives the judge pause.

"Texas has a strong interest in enforcing the judgments of its courts in criminal cases, but the public interest writ large takes no sides here. The finality of a death sentence and, with it, the inherent risk of uncertainty demand diligent effort by all," Higginbotham wrote.

"These prisoners have enjoyed that effort—with two of them residing on death row in excess of twenty years. The reality may give pause to the entire enterprise, but does not bespeak neglect of bench and bar," Higginbotham wrote. "To these eyes, a system that leaves persons on death row for over two decades more surely taxes the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of undue suffering than does the elusive search for minimum pain for those brief moments of passage across the river."

Texas leads the nation in executions and has put 537 people to death since 1976.

Source: John Council, Texas Lawyer, September 12, 2016

⚑ | Report an error, an omission; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; send a submission; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

Thailand carries out first execution since 2009

Anthony Ray Hinton Spent Almost 30 Years on Death Row. Now He Has a Message for White America.

Florida seeks death penalty for Miami mom whose baby died from scalding bath

Iran: Six executions in one day

Texas assures court it can carry out aging death row inmate's execution

Texas: White supremacist gang members sentenced to death for killing fellow supremacist inmate

Iran: Death sentence of Gonabadi Dervish Mohammad Salas carried out despite protests

Nebraska: Court orders correction department to release execution drug information

Belarus: Unprecedented Supreme Court decision to suspend death sentences

Thailand: 2nd suspect hunted in wake of Monday's execution