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No Second Chances: What to Do After a Botched Execution

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Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. The state shouldn't get a second chance.
The pathos and problems of America's death penalty were vividly on display yesterday when Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. Immediately after its failure Gov. John Kasich set June 5, 2019, as a new execution date.
This plan for a second execution reveals a glaring inadequacy in the legal standards governing botched executions in the United States.
Campbell was tried and sentenced to die for murdering 18-year-old Charles Dials during a carjacking in 1997. After Campbell exhausted his legal appeals, he was denied clemency by the state parole board and the governor.
By the time the state got around to executing Campbell, he was far from the dangerous criminal of 20 years ago. As is the case with many of America's death-row inmates, the passage of time had inflicted its own punishments.
The inmate Ohio strapped onto the gurney was a 69-year-old man afflicted with serious ailm…

Alabama House committee votes to shorten death penalty appeals

MONTGOMERY, ALA.-- Death row inmates would have less time to file appeals, under a bill approved Tuesday by the House Judiciary Committee that aims to reduce the number of years that can elapse between sentencing and execution.

The legislation, which has already cleared the Senate, would require inmates to raise claims such as that of ineffective counsel at the same time as the inmate's direct appeal claiming trial errors. 

Currently, inmates appeal trial errors first and then begin appeals on other issues, such as ineffective counsel. The bill now moves to the House floor.

State appeals in Alabama capital cases can take 15 to 18 years, said Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster. That timeframe would drop to nine to 11 years under the proposal, Ward said.

Ward said inmates would have the same number of appeals. He said the bill is based on the appellate process in Texas.

Opposed lawmakers said they feared that it would diminish the ability to uncover mistakes in capital cases.

"In my opinion, and many others, this bill substantially increases the likelihood that someone who is innocent will be put to death because we want to rush through the process and kill someone," said Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa.

"I disagree," Ward replied.

England noted the case of an Alabama inmate who was freed in 2015 after 30 years on death row.

Ray Hinton was convicted of murders at two 1985 fast food restaurant robberies in Birmingham. After the Equal Justice Initiative agreed to represent him in 1999, Hinton won a breakthrough when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Hinton's trial defense was so deficient that it was unconstitutional. Prosecutors dropped plans for a second trial when three state forensic experts couldn't match crime scene bullets to the revolver taken from Hinton's home.

Ward argued that appeals would be resolved sooner by consolidating the process.

Source: Associated Press, May 9, 2017

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