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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Centene-owned pharmacy won't give Missouri execution drugs

Lethal injections
A Missouri health care company on Tuesday said a pharmacy it recently bought won't provide execution drugs to the state, a pledge that came after media reports that the suburban St. Louis business had been the state's secret source of the drugs for years.

Buzzfeed News reported that Foundation Care, based in Earth City, supplied the state Department of Corrections with pentobarbital for 17 executions since 2014 for $135,000. The media outlet cited two sources with knowledge of the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of strict state laws prohibiting disclosure or publishing of the identity of the supplier.

Centene Corp. purchased Foundation Care in October 2017. Since then, Centene spokeswoman Marcela Manjarrez Hawn said Foundation Care "has never supplied, and will never supply any pharmaceutical product to any state for the purpose of effectuating executions."

The Department of Corrections declined to comment on the report from Buzzfeed News and on Centene's promise never to provide execution drugs.

Phone and email messages that The Associated Press left with Foundation Care, which Buzzfeed News reported has also faced scrutiny from federal regulators, were not immediately returned Tuesday. The Food and Drug Administration in 2013 designated Foundation Care as a "high-risk" pharmacy, and inspectors found examples of lax procedures that they said could put patients at risk.

Republican Sen. Paul Wieland, who has sponsored failed legislation to end the state's death penalty, said Tuesday that he still needs to verify what Buzzfeed News reported. However, he said, it would be "deeply concerning" if the state has worked with "unsavory companies or companies that are flying under the radar of state or federal regulation."

"If the accusations are true, then I think it's something that we need to look into further as a state and make sure that we're dealing with reputable people," Wieland said.

Missouri's last execution was in January 2017. Mark Christeson was put to death for killing a woman and her 2 children in 1998 after he and his cousin broke into the family's rural Vichy home.

Source: Missouri Lawyers Weekly, February 21, 2018


Condemned Man's Lawyer: 'Serious Concerns' on Execution Drug


The attorney for a man facing execution next month says she has "very serious concerns" about Missouri's lethal injection method following a report claiming the state purchased execution drugs from a troubled compounding pharmacy.

Buzzfeed News reported that Foundation Care pharmacy was the supplier of pentobarbital used in the 17 Missouri executions since 2014, even though the Food and Drug Administration deemed it a "high-risk" pharmacy.

Russell Bucklew is scheduled to die March 20 for a 1996 killing. His attorney, Cheryl Pilate, says she's troubled by the Buzzfeed report and is seeking more information before deciding whether to file a new appeal.

The quality of the execution drug is of particular concern because Bucklew suffers from a rare condition that causes weakened and malformed blood vessels and tumors in his head.

Source: Associated Press, February 21, 2018


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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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