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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…

Despite lack of execution drugs, Nevada Governor won’t urge Legislature to change death penalty law

Death Chamber, Nevada State Prison, Carson City
Death Chamber, Nevada State Prison, Carson City
CARSON CITY - Gov. Brian Sandoval said Tuesday he will not propose either a new method of capital punishment or abolishing the death penalty to the Nevada Legislature when it convenes in February.

Executions by lethal injection cannot proceed in Nevada because the Department of Corrections cannot obtain the drugs needed to carry them out. There are 81 inmates on death row in Nevada but no executions are imminent.

Sandoval said he supports capital punishment and won’t recommend that the Legislature repeal the death penalty or change the state’s method of execution to the firing squad or some other option.

Asked if there is now a de facto moratorium on the death penalty in Nevada, Sandoval said, “That is one thing that somebody could say. It’s a practical issue.

“There are no other options and right now, you are right, the drugs are not available and nobody has responded to that.”

Sandoval said a lawmaker could propose to abolish capital punishment but that he won’t be doing so.

“I am not considering that at this time,” he said.

Nevada prison officials said last week the state will have to explore its options to carry out executions after it received no bids from pharmaceutical companies to supply drugs for lethal injections.

The state issued 247 requests for proposals on Sept. 2 after its stockpile of at least one drug used in executions expired. Not one response was received.

Nevada has used the drugs midazolam and hydromorphone to administer a lethal injection. Both are manufactured by Pfizer.

“Pfizer makes its products to enhance and save the lives of the patients we serve,” the company said in a statement issued earlier this year. “Consistent with these values, Pfizer strongly objects to the use of its products as lethal injections for capital punishment.”

The Nevada Legislature in the 2015 session approved spending $858,000 to build a new execution chamber at Ely State Prison, to replace the one in the now-closed Nevada State Prison in Carson City.

Officials have said that project is scheduled to be completed by Nov. 1 and the space will be used for storage and as an attorney-inmate meeting area if no executions are scheduled to go forward.

Source: Las Vegas review-Journal, Sean Whaley, October 13, 2016

Despite Lack Of Execution Drugs, Sandoval Won't Abolish Death Penalty Or Recommend New Method


Gov. Brian Sandoval says he won't propose abolishing the death penalty after Nevada ran out of lethal injection drugs.

But the Republican also told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he wouldn't be proposing an alternative method of capital punishment, such as a firing squad.

The state has a de facto moratorium on the death penalty because 1 of the 2 drugs needed for the lethal injection has expired, and the state has been unable to find a company willing to restock its supply.

Nevada budgeted nearly $900,000 to create a working execution chamber in Ely, but may have to use that space for storage.

More than 80 people are on death row, but there are no executions pending.

Sandoval's plan doesn't preclude a lawmaker from proposing a workaround.

Source: Associated Press, October 13, 2016

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