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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 -…

Oklahoma Governor Fallin signs "Blue Lives Matter" law

Oklahoma Governor Fallin
Okalhoma Governor Mary Fallin
It has been a hard year for law enforcement in Oklahoma.

"In the state of Oklahoma this year alone we've had 4 officers die in the line of duty, 2 of which have been murdered by suspects in the last 90 days. 2 of them have been murdered in less than two months," said Jerad Lindsey, chairman of the Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police.

Governor Mary Fallin has now signed into law the Blue Lives Matter in Oklahoma Act of 2017, which now ensures that it is a capital crime to kill a police officer. Not always the case before.

"That's a big part of the punishment is people have to understand what the outcomes are. Right now, it's a bit ambiguous in the law. Sometimes it is a capital offense to kill an officer in the line of duty, sometimes it's not," said Lindsey.

The bill now effectively turns it into a death sentence, offering either the option of the death penalty or life in prison without parole. 

The original author of the bill, panhandle representative Casey Murdock says the bill makes it difficult to just get life in prison.

"I don't know that it'll increase our number of executions. My hope is that it reduces or has a deterrent factor, and reduces the number of officers we have murdered in the line of duty," said Lindsey.

This law doesn't just cover the officers on the street, but also in prisons. Corrections officers are also protected by the Blue Lives Matter Law. 

The law goes into effect in November.

Source: KTUL news, May 9, 2017

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