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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…

Nevada death row inmate drops appeals, "volunteers" for execution

Nevada's brand new $850,000 death chamber
Nevada's brand new $850,000 death chamber
LAS VEGAS (AP) - A Nevada death row inmate told a state judge again on Thursday that his decision to drop any appeals is firm, and he wants to become the first person in the state in more than 11 years to be executed - despite efforts of advocates including one who claims the death would amount to state-assisted suicide.

Scott Raymond Dozier, 46, stood in shackles and an orange prison jumpsuit before Clark County District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti and said he knew what he was doing by ordering his lawyer to quit any appeals.

“I have not changed my mind,” he said.

A federal public defender, Lori Teicher, told Togliatti she’ll ask a U.S. District Court judge to review the type of drugs the state plans to use for Dozier’s lethal injection. Documents in that effort have not yet been filed, Teicher said outside court.

State officials have not specified the procedure or the drugs that would be used.

A three-drug method including the sedative midazolam has been blamed for recent problematic executions in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Ohio and Oklahoma.

Spokeswomen for Nevada state Attorney General Adam Laxalt and prisons chief James Dzurenda didn’t immediately answer questions Wednesday and Thursday about the plan.

Dozier’s court appointed lawyer, Thomas Ericsson, said outside court that he thinks other advocates also may weigh in on his client’s behalf in coming weeks.

“There could be a number of other hurdles that may have to be crossed before we have an execution,” Ericsson said. “It will be determined by the courts whether there will be constitutional issues raised.”

“The reason Nevada may execute him is because he wants it, not because the state wants it,” said Scott Coffee, a public defender in Las Vegas who lobbies against the death penalty in Nevada. Coffee is not involved in Dozier’s case.

“He wants the state to do his bidding,” Coffee said.

American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada legal director Amy Rose said the organization may challenge Nevada state execution law as too vague to enforce.

“We don’t know what drugs they’re going to use,” she said. “We don’t know what the protocol will be. There are a lot of questions.”

Dozier has no appeal pending before the Nevada Supreme Court.

Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval would have to allow his execution to take place.

Togliatti, who presided over Dozier’s jury trial and sentencing in 2007, signed his death warrant last week. It calls for the execution to be carried out on an unspecified date the week of Oct. 16.

The judge told Dozier on Thursday she will give him every chance to change his mind, and she set another hearing Aug. 17.

“Any final status check, you are going to look me in the eye and tell me this is what you want,” Togliatti said.

A jury in Las Vegas decided that Dozier should die for killing and dismembering 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller at a Las Vegas motel in 2002, and robbing Miller of $12,000 he brought with him from Phoenix to buy ingredients to make methamphetamine.

Dozier also was convicted in Arizona in 2005 of murdering 26-year-old Jasen Greene, whose body was found in 2002 in a plastic container in the desert near Phoenix.

Dozier also used the name Chad Wyatt. He would become the first person put to death in Nevada since 2006, when Daryl Mack asked to be put to death for his conviction in a 1988 rape and murder in Reno.

Nevada has since demolished its old death chamber in Carson City, the state capital, and built one at Nevada State Prison in Ely, the state’s maximum-security and death-row facility.

Coffee said 11 of 12 death-row inmates put to death in Nevada from 1976 to 2006 gave up all appeals and asked to die.

Source: Associated Press, Ken Ritter, August 3, 2017

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