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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…

Court filing: Ark.'s 2017 executions unveiled problems

Lethal injection lab
18 condemned inmates say in new court filings that the executions of 4 men in Arkansas last year exposed problems that should render the state's lethal injection procedure unconstitutional.

The prisoners late Monday asked a federal judge to let them amend a lawsuit filed after Arkansas scheduled 8 executions in an 11-day period last year. 

Four inmates from the original lawsuit were put to death, 3 received stays and Gov. Asa Hutchinson granted clemency to 1.

The inmates initially claimed Arkansas' use of the surgical sedative midazolam might expose them to excruciating pain because it couldn't render them unconscious before 2 other drugs stopped their lungs and hearts. The revised lawsuit says the 4 executions last year support their view.

"During several of the executions, the condemned moved when they should have been anesthetized or paralyzed," lawyers for the inmates wrote, citing witness accounts from various media, including The Associated Press. "During Kenneth Williams' execution, Williams began bucking against his restraints so hard that it caused bruising to his head."

Jack Jones' lips continued to move after he made a final statement, and 5 minutes into his execution his lips moved another 3 to 5 times, the lawyers said, citing an AP report.

The amended lawsuit, which must be accepted by U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker, says it was never clear whether the Arkansas Department of Correction followed its guidelines. The lawyers say there was no way to tell when each drug was administered and that it wasn't clear an attendant performed proper consciousness checks on each inmate.

"The consciousness check is necessary to discern awareness but insufficient to determine whether the prisoner is insensate to pain," the lawyers wrote.

Arkansas uses midazolam to sedate inmates at the start of its executions. The lawyers said late Monday it would be unconstitutionally cruel to subsequently shut down the inmates' lungs and hearts if the prisoners weren't unconscious. The 2nd drug in a 3-drug sequence paralyzes inmates, rendering them unable to cry out.

"The person has the desire to breathe but no ability to do so," the lawyers wrote. "Once the paralysis is total, the recipient is unable to communicate and feels as if he has been buried alive."

The inmates' lawyers said a firing squad, an overdose of pentobarbital or the anesthetic gas sevoflurane might be better options.

Courts last year rejected the inmates' effort to have the midazolam protocol declared unconstitutional and the Arkansas attorney general's office said Tuesday that this year's effort would fail, too.

"The death row inmates' proposed amended complaint is yet another attempt to delay justice for the victims and their families," Jessica Ray, a spokeswoman for the attorney general, said in an email.

Source: The Associated Press, June 7, 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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