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States to try new ways of executing prisoners. Their latest idea? Opioids.

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The synthetic painkiller fentanyl has been the driving force behind the nation’s opioid epidemic, killing tens of thousands of Americans last year in overdoses. Now two states want to use the drug’s powerful properties for a new purpose: to execute prisoners on death row.
As Nevada and Nebraska push for the country’s first fentanyl-assisted executions, doctors and death penalty opponents are fighting those plans. They have warned that such an untested use of fentanyl could lead to painful, botched executions, comparing the use of it and other new drugs proposed for lethal injection to human experimentation.
States are increasingly pressed for ways to carry out the death penalty because of problems obtaining the drugs they long have used, primarily because pharmaceutical companies are refusing to supply their drugs for executions.
The situation has led states such as Florida, Ohio and Oklahoma to turn to novel drug combinations for executions. Mississippi legalized nitrogen gas this s…

129 inmates on death row in Japan at end of 2016

Gallows at Tokyo Detention Center
Gallows at Tokyo Detention Center
TOKYO — The number of death row inmates in Japan in 2016 was 129 on Saturday, a rise of two people from 2015, while continuing to surpass the threshold of 100 since 2007.

Three inmates were executed during the year, while seven people were given the death penalty, the Ministry of Justice told Kyodo News.

Of the total figure, 128 people are officially registered as inmates at detention centers. 

Iwao Hakamada, 80, a former professional boxer convicted in the murder of four people in 1966, was released in 2014 after a court decided to open a retrial.

Yasutoshi Kamata, 75, who was convicted of murdering a 9-year-old girl in Osaka and four women between 1985 and 1994, was put to death in March. 

Junko Yoshida, 56, a former nurse who masterminded two murders for insurance money in 1998 and 1999 in Fukuoka Prefecture, was also executed in March.

In November, Kenichi Tajiri, 45, who killed two women in two murder-robbery cases in 2004 and 2011 in Kumamoto, southwestern Japan, was hanged, according to the ministry.

The seven people newly sentenced to death last year include 25-year-old Yutaro Chiba, who in July became the first to be given capital punishment under the lay judge trial system for a crime committed by a teenager. 

Chiba was convicted of murdering two women in 2010 when he was 18 years old.

Source: Japan Times, January 1, 2017

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