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Will the U.S. Finally End the Death Penalty?

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In the past, abolition efforts have faced a backlash—but Gavin Newsom’s moratorium may be different.
The American death penalty is extraordinarily fragile, with death sentences and executions on the decline. Public support for the death penalty has diminished. The practice is increasingly marginalized around the world. California, with its disproportionately large share of American death-row inmates, announces an end to the death penalty. The year? 1972. That’s when the California Supreme Court declared the death penalty inconsistent with the state’s constitutional prohibition of cruel or unusual punishments—only to have the death penalty restored a year later through popular initiative and legislation.
On Wednesday, again, California walked back its commitment to the death penalty. Though not full-fledged abolition, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on capital punishment lasting as long as his tenure in office, insisting that the California death penalty has been an “abject…

Judge delays release of Alabama's lethal injection documents

Alabama's death row
Alabama won't reveal its lethal injection protocol until a higher court reviews that decision.

Court records entered Thursday show U.S. Chief District Judge Karon O Bowdre has granted a motion from the Alabama Attorney General's Office to stay her previous ruling, which ordered the state to reveal execution secrets, until a higher court can review the state's appeal.

The AG's office has appealed the ruling to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. A motion from the AG's office requesting the stay says they would like the release to be delayed because the release of execution protocol "implicates a serious issue that deserves the review of a higher court before it becomes effective."

"...while this Court found that there exists a public interest in understanding how Alabama carries out its lethal-injection procedure... there is a greater public interest at stake here: The State's ability to carry out its lawful functions."

The motion says, "There is no doubt that there is great public interest in ensuring that the State can carry out its duly enacted laws. Alabama's death-penalty statutes are constitutional and enforceable and anything that hinders the State's ability to enforce that statute (even minimally) is of great public interest and, thus, weighs in favor of granting a stay pending appeal."

The motion also says the media outlets who requested the protocol be made public--Alabama Media Group, the Associated Press, and the Montgomery Advertiser--will not suffer from the documents being sealed until the appeal process takes place.

The judge's order to unseal the Alabama Department of Corrections' capital punishment protocol was entered last month. She wrote the public has a "common law right of access" to the sealed records relating how the state executes death row inmates. The judge said any identification or names of low-level prison employees involved in executions, the court's independent medical examiner, and other confidential security measures can be kept secret.

The order stems from the case of Doyle Lee Hamm, a 61-year-old death row inmate who experienced an aborted execution on February 22. The execution was called off after several hours of attempting to insert a catheter for the lethal drugs in Hamm's veins, and Hamm's lawyer Bernard Harcourt said then that Hamm experienced severe pain and bleeding during the attempt.

He had argued Hamm could not be executed via intravenous lethal injection because of Hamm's lymphatic cancer and prior drug use. The AG's Office said Hamm's veins would be accessible for the procedure.

Source: al.com, 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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Will the U.S. Finally End the Death Penalty?