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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…

Judge warns death row inmate to keep Nevada's execution manual secret

Nevada's new $860,000 execution chamber
Scott Dozier faces loss of prison privileges in last months of life if he discloses death manual details.

While Scott Raymond Dozier, 45, waits for his date with death in November at Ely State Prison, NV, the condemned inmate and his attorneys were granted approval in court on Thursday to review Nevada's execution manual, according to KNPR and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. 

Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti cautioned his lawyers, however, that she can sever Dozier's communication with people, outside of prison, if their client discloses prison information that is confidential and contained within the manual.

An agreement was worked out in court that permits Dozier and his lawyers to see portions of the execution manual that were previously redacted, the Review-Journal reported.

The manual's details are not available to the public. Judge Togliatti seeks to ensure that the inmate does not leak parts of the document to anyone - his fellow inmates, family, or friends. 

If Dozier does disclose contents from the manual the judge warned that she can strip his prison privileges for the remainder of his life, which is 2 months away.

Condemned inmate's lawyers want execution details reviewed by medical expert


The reason Dozier and his attorneys sought access to the state's execution manual is that the inmate's federal public defenders want a medical expert to review the details. Not since the April 2006 execution of Daryl Mack has a Nevada inmate been put to death by capital punishment in the state. Dozier is next in line and the first inmate to experience Nevada's new $860,000 execution chamber.

Dozier was convicted twice of murder. His 1st conviction was in 2006 for 2nd-degree murder in Arizona. He was convicted of murder by a Clark County, NV, jury in 2007 and received the death penalty for killing Jeremiah Miller, 22, in 2002.

The drug cocktail that will be injected into Dozier to deliver death was recently reported by prison officials, the Review-Journal noted. The Lethal Injection protocol will include diazepam, fentanyl, and cisatracurium, which is a paralytic.

Ethical conflict for doctor consulting on execution


Fentanyl
The pending execution does not come without a potential clash in ethics for Dr. John DiMuro, Nevada's Chief Medical Officer. The chief medical officer has to consult on delivering capital punishment, according to Nevada law. The Reno Gazette-Journal explained that DiMuro is "an anesthesiologist committed to preserving life."

According to the board that certifies the doctor, the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), DiMuro's role assisting the state in selecting drugs used in the injection protocol does not pose an ethical dilemma since he will not be administering the lethal combination that kills Dozier.

At the same time, however, Johan Bester interprets the fact that DiMuro is acting as a state consultant involved in Dozier's pending execution means that the doctor is participating in creating the drug cocktail that will ultimately kill the inmate. Bester is the medical director of bioethics, University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Medicine. Bester said the doctor's involvement could present an ethical conflict. Bester described DiMuro's situation as "difficult," the Gazette-Journal reported. On one hand, he's a physician with an ethical obligation not to be involved, Bester relayed. On the other hand, the doctor is faced with a law stating that he has to offer his advice.

DiMuro commented on his role as a consultant for the execution in an email to the Gazette-Journal. He wrote, "I can confirm that I am consulting with the NDOC as required by Nevada statute." He also noted that the process is not complete and that the court is most apt to review the final decision.

Jessica Bardoulas, the AOA spokeswoman, stated that DiMuro's certification is not jeopardized by fulfilling his responsibilities as the state's chief medical officer. As well, the ethical policy for the Nevada Medical Association states that physicians are not supposed to "actively participate," the Gazette-Journal reported.

Earlier this year, Dozier voluntarily ended all appeals and Judge Togliatti signed his death warrant. The condemned inmate affirmed that his stance has not wavered, according to News3LV. He told the judge, "I will gladly write a letter every single week, just letting you know nothing has changed between now and then," he said. "I'll write it every Sunday."

Source: blastingnews.com, Anne Cox, Sept. 18, 2017


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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