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Why Texas’ ‘death penalty capital of the world’ stopped executing people

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Since the Supreme Court legalized capital punishment in 1976, Harris County, Texas, has executed 126 people. That's more executions than every individual state in the union, barring Texas itself.
Harris County's executions account for 23 percent of the 545 people Texas has executed. On the national level, the state alone is responsible for more than a third of the 1,465 people put to death in the United States since 1976.
In 2017, however, the county known as the "death penalty capital of the world" and the "buckle of the American death belt" executed and sentenced to death a remarkable number of people: zero.
This is the first time since 1985 that Harris County did not execute any of its death row inmates, and the third year in a row it did not sentence anyone to capital punishment either.
The remarkable statistic reflects a shift the nation is seeing as a whole.
“The practices that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is following are also signifi…

Three Ohio death-row inmates ask Supreme Court to stay executions

Three death-row inmates in Ohio asked the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday to stay their executions as they challenge the state's use of a lethal execution method that they say raises the risk of a painful death.

Ohio has not executed anyone since January 2014, when the state first used a lethal injection method that includes the sedative Midazolam. It took the inmate, Dennis McGuire, 25 minutes to die, and witnesses reported he had uttered loud sounds and gasped several times during the execution.

Attorneys for the inmates - who include a man convicted of raping and killing his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter - argue the execution method raises the risk of causing pain so severe it violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on "cruel and unusual punishment."

Tuesday's filing asked the Supreme Court to review a ruling last month by a 3-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. In the 2-1 decision, appeals court judges, reversing a lower court ruling, said the plaintiffs failed to prove the execution method "is sure or very likely to cause serious pain."

Use of Midazolam in executions has been blamed for unnecessary pain or struggles in Arkansas, Arizona and Virginia.

The January execution of convicted murder Ricky Gray in Virginia left him with blood in his lungs and other indications that he had struggled, an autopsy showed.

Some critics have called for a ban on the use of Midazolam in executions.

In their filing Tuesday, attorneys for the inmates argued the appeals court ruling violates the Constitution, contradicts Supreme Court precedent and "involves an issue of recurring and national importance."

Ronald Phillips is the 1st of the 3 inmates scheduled to be executed, on July 26, for the 1993 rape and killing of his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter in Akron. Gary Otte's execution is scheduled to die Sept. 13 for a 1992 double murder in a Cleveland suburb, and Raymond Tibbetts' on Oct. 18 for a 1997 fatal stabbing in Cincinnati.

Source: Talk Media News, July 19, 2017


Ohio: Judge denies request for execution witnesses


A federal judge has denied a request by attorneys for Ohio death row inmates to allow extra witnesses of upcoming executions.

Attorneys want 2 "appropriately trained persons" such as a nurse anesthetist and a lawyer to ensure the execution is carried out in a constitutional manner.

The state is scheduled to resume executions July 26 after a more than 3-year delay while Ohio searched for new supplies of lethal drugs.

Judge Michael Merz rejected the request Tuesday. He said there's no evidence a nurse anesthetist would be able to evaluate an inmate's consciousness from the viewing room.

He also said the person would be perceived as biased coming from the inmate's legal team.

Source: Daily Journal, July 19, 2017

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