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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 -…

13 Oklahoma death row inmates now eligible for execution

Oklahoma's death chamber
Oklahoma's death chamber
WASHINGTON — James Chandler Ryder, convicted of killing a woman and her son over some personal belongings in 1999, is now the 13th Oklahoma death row inmate who has exhausted appeals and is eligible for an execution date.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined, without comment, to review Ryder's appeal. It was the fifth time since the high court's new term began in October that justices have rejected the final appeal in an Oklahoma capital case.

In such instances, the Oklahoma attorney general typically moves quickly to request an execution date from the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.

But problems with lethal injections in Oklahoma have led to a pause in executions while the state Department of Corrections reviews the process.

The last execution in Oklahoma was in January 2015. And executions won't resume immediately after the Corrections Department decides it is ready. 

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has said he would wait at least 150 days after the review is complete before requesting execution dates.

Earlier this month, Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot question that gives state constitutional protection to the death penalty — and death sentences already handed down — even if a particular execution method is ruled to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled against a method and has twice upheld lethal injection protocols, including Oklahoma's in 2015.

Ryder, who is now 54, was convicted of killing Daisy Hallum and her adult son, Sam Hallum, in Pittsburg County in a dispute over possessions Ryder had been storing with them. Ryder received the death penalty for killing Daisy Hallum and life without parole for killing Sam Hallum.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the death sentence in January.

Source: NewsOK, Chris Casteel, November 30, 2016

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