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Iran: The death penalty is an inhumane punishment for death row prisoners, their families and society as a whole

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"Whether guilty or not, the outcome of the death penalty is the same. In Iran, the death penalty is by hanging, and it takes from several agonising seconds to several harrowing minutes for death to occur and for everything to be over."

Every year several hundred people are executed by the Iranian authorities.
According to reports by Iran Human Rights (IHR) and other human rights groups, death row prisoners have often no access to a defence lawyer after their arrest and are sentenced to death following unfair trials and based on confessions extracted from them under torture. 
These are issues which have been addressed in IHR’s previous reports. The current report is based on first-hand accounts of several inmates held in Iran's prisons and their families. The report seeks to illustrate other aspects of how the death penalty affects the inmate, their families and, as a consequence, society.
How does a death row inmate experience his final hours?
Speaking about the final ho…

Oklahoma to use nitrogen gas for executions

Nitrogen gas
Oklahoma plans to use nitrogen gas as its preferred method of execution when it resumes using the death penalty, the first US state to do so.

The announcement was made by State Attorney General Mike Hunter and Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh.

Capital punishment has been on hold in Oklahoma for three years amid problems with the lethal injection method.

Mr Hunter told a news conference on Wednesday that nitrogen was easy to obtain and led to a painless death.

Authorities will work together over the coming months to develop new protocols, the two men added. 

It is not clear exactly how soon executions will resume.

Oklahoma passed a bill in 2015 to allow nitrogen gas poisoning, or nitrogen-induced hypoxia, as a method of execution following difficulties in obtaining the drugs necessary for lethal injection. 

Some drug companies have forbidden the use of their products in executions.

An indefinite stay on capital punishment in the state was announced in October 2015 after prison officials nearly gave the wrong lethal injection drug to death row inmate Richard Glossip.

Oklahoma had already overhauled how it carried out the death penalty after the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in 2014. Lockett struggled and took more than 40 minutes to die.

Seventeen inmates on death row in Oklahoma are in line for execution after losing appeals, the state's NewsOK website reported.

Source: BBC News, March 14, 2018


Oklahoma death penalty: state plans to execute inmates with nitrogen gas


After trying unsuccessfully for months to obtain lethal injection drugs, Oklahoma officials said on Wednesday they plan to use nitrogen gas to execute inmates once the state resumes using the death penalty, marking the first time a US state would use the gas to carry out capital punishment.

The state attorney general, Mike Hunter, and corrections department director, Joe Allbaugh, jointly announced the plan, saying the two agencies would work together to develop new protocols over the next several months.

“We can no longer sit on the sidelines and wait on the drugs,” Hunter said. “Using nitrogen will be effective, simple to administer, easy to obtain and requires no complex medical procedures.”

Oklahoma and other states have not been able to get the drugs required for lethal injections amid opposition from drugmakers to having their products used in executions. Allbaugh said in trying to find a supply of lethal drugs, he was forced to deal with “seedy individuals” who may have had access to them.

“I was calling all around the world, to the back streets of the Indian subcontinent,” Allbaugh said.

Hunter said the administration of the gas would probably require the use of a mask placed over the inmate’s head, but he said the mechanical details still have to be worked out.

Any attempt to change the method used to execute inmates in Oklahoma is certain to trigger a flurry of legal challenges. Hunter said there was a growing body of research on the use of inert gases on humans because of their increasing use in assisted suicides, but several death penalty experts said the use of the nitrogen gas on unwilling subjects is entirely experimental and untested.

“This method has never been used before and is experimental,” said Dale Baich, a federal public defender and one of the attorneys representing Oklahoma death row prisoners in a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s lethal injection protocol. “How can we trust Oklahoma to get this right when the state’s recent history reveals a culture of carelessness and mistakes in executions?”

Oklahoma has had one of the busiest death chambers in the US, but put executions on hold three years ago after a series of mishaps, including a botched lethal injection in 2014 that left an inmate writhing on the gurney and drug mix-ups in 2015 in which the wrong lethal drugs were delivered.

One inmate was executed with an unapproved drug and a second inmate was just moments away from being led to the death chamber before prison officials realized the same wrong drug had been delivered for his execution.

Since then, several top officials connected to the bungled executions have resigned and the state’s multicounty grand jury delivered a scathing report on Oklahoma’s lethal injection process that accused a number of individuals involved in the process of sloppy and careless work.

The attorney general’s office has said in court filings that it will not request any execution dates until at least five months after the new protocols are released. Meanwhile, 17 death row inmates in Oklahoma have exhausted all of their appeals and are awaiting execution dates to be set.

Source: The Guardian, March 14, 2018


ACLU of Oklahoma condemns use of nitrogen gas for death penalty


TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) — It was announced Wednesday that Oklahoma would become the first state to use nitrogen gas for capital punishment. The ACLU of Oklahoma views this move as "deeply troubling," according to their official statement on the change.

Executive Director Ryan Kiesel, a spokesman for the ACLU of Oklahoma, said "Oklahoma's leaders have demonstrated a new level of incompetence" by continuing to sanction the use of the death penalty in general.

Kiesel continues, "This announcement is silent on the 46 recommendations made by the bipartisan Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission. The conclusions drawn by this commission paint a picture of a system that fails at multiple points to provide the necessary safeguards in a system that ends with our government, in our name, killing an individual."

The death penalty has been an issue for debate since its inception, with the ACLU arguing for lawmakers to dismiss capital punishment as an option for years now.

"Knowing that a majority of Oklahomans will say they can think of a situation in which the death penalty is an appropriate punishment, they are counting those Oklahomans to stop their critical thinking at that point and not consider the abysmal record of the political leaders who plan to experiment new methods of killing on people who may or may not be guilty," Kiesel said.

In 2015, a botched execution in Oklahoma sparked outrage after it was found that the Department of Corrections failed to follow protocol after using the wrong drug for a lethal injection. The Grand Jury found that the state had experimented with potassium acetate in the execution of Charles Warner in January of that year, possibly due to the shortage of drugs commonly administered for the death penalty. Warner's last words were that he felt like his body was "on fire."

The ACLU ends its statement with a plea to Oklahoma citizens: "The question Oklahomans must ask is not whether they support the death penalty, but rather, do they trust this government with the power to kill its citizens."

Source: ktul.com, Ashley Ellis, March 14, 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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