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Pope Declares Death Penalty Inadmissible in All Cases

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ROME — Pope Francis has declared the death penalty inadmissible in all cases because it is “an attack” on the “dignity of the person,” the Vatican announced on Thursday, in a definitive shift in Roman Catholic teaching that could put enormous pressure on lawmakers and politicians around the world.
Francis, who has spoken out against capital punishment before — including in 2015 in an address to Congress — added the change to the Catechism, the collection of beliefs for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
The revision says the church would work “with determination” for the abolition of capital punishment worldwide.
“I think this will be a big deal for the future of the death penalty in the world,” said John Thavis, a Vatican expert and author. “People who work with prisoners on death row will be thrilled, and I think this will become a banner social justice issue for the church,” he added.
Sergio D’Elia, the secretary of Hands Off Cain, an association that works to abolish capital puni…

Missouri inmate Russell Bucklew receives reprieve before execution

Russell Bucklew
The U.S. Supreme Court has granted a stay of execution for a Missouri inmate who argued that a medical condition could result in the process causing him undue suffering.

Russell Bucklew was scheduled to die by injection Tuesday evening for killing a former girlfriend’s new boyfriend during a violent rampage in 1996.

In a statement, the Supreme Court said it granted the stay in the execution. But the court says that 4 justices — John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch — would have allowed the execution to go ahead.

It is the 2nd time that the nation’s highest court has halted the execution of Bucklew over concerns about his rare medical condition. Bucklew, 49, was within an hour of execution in May 2014 when the U.S. Supreme Court halted it over concerns about Bucklew’s rare medical condition, cavernous hemangioma. The ailment causes weakened and malformed blood vessels, tumors in his head and throat and on his lip, and vein problems.

His attorney, Cheryl Pilate, had asked the Supreme Court to intervene, claiming Bucklew’s condition had gotten worse.

The tumor on Bucklew’s lip has grown substantially since 2014 and is now the size of a grape, Pilate said. She believes the internal tumors have grown, too, and will likely rupture and bleed during the execution, potentially causing Bucklew “to choke and cough on his own blood during the lethal injection process.”

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley disagrees, writing in his filing to the Supreme Court that the growth in Bucklew’s mouth shrunk 10 percent between 2010 and 2016.

The condition also compromises his veins, and Pilate said the fatal injection couldn’t be administered in a typical way through an arm vein. Hawley wrote that the lethal dose of pentobarbital could be administered through a leg or other vein instead of the arm.

Pilate also has asked for clemency from Republican Gov. Eric Greitens. A spokesman for the governor declined to comment.

Bucklew’s appeals have suggested that if the execution is carried out, the state should use lethal gas instead of an injection of pentobarbital. Missouri law still provides for the option of lethal gas, but the state no longer has a gas chamber and has not used the method since 1965.

None of the 20 inmates executed since Missouri began using pentobarbital in 2013 have shown obvious signs of pain or suffering.

Bucklew became angry when his girlfriend, Stephanie Ray, ended their relationship in 1996. Hawley said in court filings that Bucklew slashed Ray’s face with a knife, beat her and threatened to kill her. She took her children and left.

Over the next 2 weeks, Bucklew stalked Ray, even as he stole a car, firearms, 2 sets of handcuffs and duct tape. He eventually found out where she was staying and broke into the southeastern Missouri trailer home of Michael Sanders, Ray’s new boyfriend, fatally shooting him. When Sanders’ 6-year-old son came out of hiding, Bucklew shot at the boy and missed.

Bucklew pistol-whipped Ray, put her in handcuffs and dragged her to his car, where he raped her.

Police pursued Bucklew — a chase ending in a gunfight that wounded an officer. Once in jail, Bucklew managed to escape and went to the home of Ray’s mother, where he attacked her with a hammer before he was finally captured.

Some civil rights organizations have joined in asking that Bucklew be allowed to live out his life in prison. In a letter last week to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union wrote that executing Bucklew “would be egregious, torturous, and in violation of the U.S. and international law prohibiting torture, cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Source: The Associated Press, March 20, 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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