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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 -…

Alabama execution back on for Thursday after U.S. Supreme Court ruling

Robert Melson
Robert Melson
The execution of Robert Bryant Melson is back on for Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court tonight lifted a stay that had been granted last week by an appeals court.

The stay of the execution was lifted in an order issued by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday.

Three of the nine Supreme Court associate justices - Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor - said they did not want to vacate the stay of execution, according to the brief order.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Monday had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule the appeals court and reinstate Thursday's planned execution of Melson, the man convicted in the 1994 shooting deaths of three fast food employees at a Popeye's in Etowah County.

The execution is set for 6 p.m. Thursday at Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore.

The 11th Circuit on Friday had granted a stay of Melson's execution. Melson is challenging his execution on grounds that the three-drug cocktail Alabama uses for lethal injections "has failed to work properly."

The 11th Circuit issued the stay so it can rule on Melson's challenge, which is also being appealed by four other death row inmates.

Melson and the other inmates argue that the first drug administered in the cocktail, the sedative midazolam, doesn't work well enough prevent the inmates from experiencing the pain caused by the other two drugs that stop breathing and the heart.

The Alabama Attorney General on Monday, however, filed a motion to the U.S. Supreme Court that argues in part that the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that midazolam can be used in drug protocols.

Also, the Attorney General argues, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the stay requests of four Arkansas inmates who were executed using the same drug protocol as Alabama. And Alabama has already carried out three executions using the protocol, including the May 25 execution of Tommy Arthur in which the 11th Circuit denied a stay.

The other two Alabama inmates who were executed - Ronald Smith and Christopher Brooks - also were co-plaintiffs in the case with Melson "and their stay requests were denied by the Eleventh Circuit because their nearly identical claims were also time-bared," the Attorney General also argued.

Source: AL.com, Ken Faulk, June 6, 2017

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