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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…

Wyoming kills death penalty repeal

The bill to repeal Wyoming's Death Penalty is no longer being taken under consideration in the Legislature's House.

House Bill 240 (HB 240), sponsored by Representative Marti Halverson proposed a complete repeal of Wyoming's death penalty law.

"I'm pretty adamantly opposed to the death penalty, so I thought that this [House Bill 240] was great." UW Professor of Philosophy Edward Sherline said.

According to the Wyoming Constitution, a person convicted of murder in the 1st degree can be punished by death, life imprisonment without parole or life imprisonment, with the exception of persons under the age of 18, who will not be given the death penalty. The present form of execution in Wyoming is death by lethal injection.

Representative Mark Baker, co-sponsor of HB 240, said that as of Feb. 15, the bill did not meet the cut-off date and is indefinitely postponed for the session.

Sherline said the death penalty has not had a significant impact on Wyoming, however, he still opposes it. The last person to be executed in Wyoming was Mark Hopkinson in 1992 and the last person sentenced to death row was Dale Wayne Eaton in 2004.

Since 2014 Judge Alan B. Johnson has overturned Eaton's sentencing on the grounds that Eaton received poor representation, which was due to the Wyoming Public Defender's office's lack of funding. At this time no one is on death row in Wyoming or being tried for the death penalty, according to the Death Penatly Information Center's website.

"I wouldn't have cared otherwise, how would it affect me?" Brian Halsey, a Political Science and History student at UW said. "It [the death penalty] doesn't dictate my everyday life so why should I worry about it? In Wyoming it is okay because it won't really be used in a state with a population of 500,000."

A bill was considered in the 2015 session to replace the state's backup method of execution. The bill would have replaced the gas chamber with a firing squad as an alternative in the event that lethal injection is not available.

A bill to eliminate the death penalty will not be considered this year, however, this may still be a step in that direction.

"Maybe this is just the 1st step in the door." Sherline said.

Source: The (Univ. Wyo.) Branding Iron, February 20, 2017

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