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Showing posts from July, 2018

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Arizona: Execution witnesses have First Amendment right to hear entire process, 9th Circuit rules

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A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that witnesses to Arizona executions have a First Amendment right to hear the entire execution process to help determine if executions are done “in a humane and lawful manner.”
The ruling comes 5 years after the last execution in Arizona ended up with the condemned inmate, Joseph Wood, gasping for almost two hours and in apparent agony behind soundproof glass.
A 3-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the claim, by seven death-row inmates and the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona, that the ability to hear what’s happening in the execution room will foster a heightened level of transparency around the death penalty.

RELATED | Not In My Name
“People might say, ‘That sounds so gory, why do you want to hear what’s happening in there?'” said Morgan Loew, an investigative reporter with CBS 5 in Arizona and the president of the First Amendment Coalition. “What we’re doing is fighting for more access to probably the most …

Tennessee: Death penalty's toll on state's executioners

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The criminal justice system is divided into 3 distinct but equally important components -- law enforcement, courts and corrections.
There is no textbook that can adequately prepare students for what they will face if they decide to pursue a career in corrections in Tennessee or any state with the death penalty.
That's especially the case, if they decide to work with inmates on death row or with the team that carries out executions.
At LeMoyne-Owen College, it is my job to help prepare students who want to become law enforcement officers, court personnel professionals, or correctional staff/officials for the realities of the profession.
While my colleagues and I do our best to provide an accurate account, there are limits to how much we can prepare a criminal justice professional to be responsible for taking the life of another, even if it is state-condoned.
The toll that this grave responsibility will take on a person is unpredictable. We have seen this all too clearly when our s…

Killer author who murdered 4 people 23 years ago then wrote acclaimed novels 'inspired by the case' is sentenced to death in China

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An award-winning Chinese author has been sentenced to death 23 years after murdering 4 people, including a family of 3, for money.
The 53-year-old criminal, Liu Yongbiao, and an accomplice robbed and killed the victims in a family-run guesthouse before living as free men for more than 2 decades.
During the time, Liu became an acclaimed author in China. In a previous interview with China Central Television Station, Liu confessed that some of his novels were inspired by his thoughts about the murder.
But Liu did not dare to create any characters based on the people he had killed, he told a reporter from the China Central Television Station last year.
Liu also admitted that the bloody scenes and gory details had haunted him throughout the years and the feeling was 'worse than dying'.
Liu and his accomplice, named by the court as Wang, were both given a death penalty today during a trial in Huzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province, according to the court.
The shocking murder to…

British waffling on death penalty will have global repercussions

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For over half a century, abolitionists have wielded the United Kingdom’s conscientious, consistent, civilized opposition to capital punishment – in all cases and all circumstances – as a powerful argument to end the ignominious practice in their own countries and states, too. This may be about to end.
In a fiery column for The Independent with a blistering chyron-style title (“No Sajid Javid, you don’t get to make us all complicit in the state-sponsored murder of ISIS fighters”), British barrister and human rights campaigner Martha Spurrier writes: Although “Britain left the death penalty behind in 1965[,] [because it’s] cruel, inhuman and degrading – of the executed and the executioner [ – British Interior Minister/“Home Secretary”] Sajid Javid took a step back to the dark ages, abandoning the UK’s longstanding policy of denying extradition requests or intelligence sharing where they could be used to facilitate an execution.”
Muddying the waters, a Business Insiderpiece carried the …

Are the gas chamber, electric chair, gallows in Louisiana's future?

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Are Louisiana lawmakers ready to bring back the gas chamber, hanging, firing squad or electrocution as options for carrying out the state's death penalty?
Attorney General Jeff Landry says he will push for those changes if Louisiana can't figure out how to get its lethal injection protocols back on track. Executions in the state are on hold and will be for at least another year as part of a legal battle and efforts to find a drug manufacturer or pharmacy that will sell them the products needed to carry out executions. Louisiana hasn't put a prisoner to death since 2010 when Gerald Bordelon waived all his rights to appeal.
Landry has accused Gov. John Bel Edwards of dragging his feet on the speed of executions, noting that other states have managed to put bodies on the gurneys, noting that Texas has carried out seven executions in the first six months of this year and that Arkansas had managed two in just one day.
While avoiding a direct statement on where he stands on the …

Pakistan's 2018 General Elections See Rise of Anti-Blasphemy Party

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A relatively new anti-blasphemy party whose leader has reportedly vowed to nuke the Netherlands should he ever come to power did surprisingly well in Pakistan’s general elections last week, which were tainted by the participation of several extremist groups.
Islamic fundamentalist parties fielded more than 1,500 candidates in the provincial and national elections that were won by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan.
Extremists were a major talking point going into the contest with politicians, including Khan, accused of pandering to their vote base by trumpeting hardline issues such as blasphemy.
A brief look at how the main extremist parties fared during Wednesday’s polls.
Anti-blasphemy platform
The performance of Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), led by radical preacher Khadim Hussain Rizvi, will worry mainstream politicians and human rights activists the most.
The group, founded in 2015, entered the national consciousness last year when it blockaded Islamabad for several weeks …

Kenya: Death penalty taskforce holds open forum as debate rages

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 31 – The Taskforce on the Review of the Mandatory Nature of the Death Penalty that was appointed by the Attorney General in March is on Tuesday due to hold an open forum on the controversial issue.
In the Supreme Court Ruling of December 14 last year, the Attorney General was given 12 months within which to come up with proposals aligned to the recommendations contained in the Supreme Court Ruling that abolished the mandatory nature of the death penalty in Section 204 of the Penal Code Act.
During the meeting, the meaning and implication of the Supreme Court ruling will be discussed together will all members of the taskforce.
These include the Judiciary, the Prisons and Correctional Services, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the National Assembly, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Kenya Law Reform Commission, among others.
Other than the legislative framework, the task force being chaired by Maryann Njau-Kimani will set up a framework to…

Sydney plane bomb plot accused Amer Khayat says Lebanese authorities bashed him, fabricated evidence

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An Australian father of two facing a possible death penalty in Lebanon for an alleged Islamic State plot to blow up a flight from Sydney has accused Lebanese authorities of bashing him, fabricating evidence and forcing him to sign a false confession.
Amer Khayat, 39, gave an emotional and animated testimony for more than an hour overnight in Lebanon's military court in Beirut, where he stands accused of planning to blow up the Etihad flight to Abu Dhabi with 400 people on board in the sky above Australia on July 15 last year.
Australian Federal Police have said the Australian-Lebanese dual citizen had "no idea" he was carrying a bomb hidden in a meat grinder inside his hand luggage, but Lebanese authorities accuse him of being a willing suicide bomber.
Mr Khayat's brothers, Mahmoud and Khaled, are due to stand trial in the New South Wales Supreme Court next year accused of planting the bomb in his hand luggage as he set off from Sydney for Lebanon via Abu Dhabi.
The …

Fentanyl Maker Joins Lawsuit To Block Nevada Execution Plan

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A maker of the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl joined a bid to block the use of its product in what would be the first execution in Nevada in more than 12 years using a three-drug combination never before tried in any state.
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A maker of the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl joined a bid Monday to block the use of its product in what would be the first execution in Nevada in more than 12 years using a three-drug combination never before tried in any state.
Hikma Pharmaceuticals USA overcame sharp objections from the state to win a judge’s OK to intervene in New Jersey-based Alvogen’s lawsuit seeking to stop the use of an Alvogen sedative for the twice-postponed execution of twice-convicted killer Scott Raymond Dozier.
“It’s ironic that the maker of fentanyl, which is at the center of the nation’s opioid crisis and is responsible for illegal overdoses every day is going to … claim reputational injury from being associated with a lawful execution,” Deputy Nevada state…

Will the death penalty deter rape in India?

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India's lower house of parliament passed a bill on Monday that will see the death penalty handed out to anyone convicted of raping a child under 12.
The amendment to the Prevention Of Child Sex Offences (Pocso) act was made at the behest of Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, who said she believed this would deter sexual crimes against children.
It came soon after a series of high-profile cases against children, including the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Indian-administered Kashmir, and the more recent rape of a young girl in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
India's official crime data show the number of reported rapes of children increased from 8,541 in 2012 to 19,765 in 2016.
In 2013, following the outrage over the rape and murder of a medical student aboard a moving bus in the capital Delhi, the government announced that the death penalty would be applicable to those convicted of rape resulting in death.
The new amendments will ena…

AP reporter Michael Graczyk who observed 400+ executions in Texas retires

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HOUSTON (AP) — Associated Press journalist Michael Graczyk, who witnessed and chronicled more than 400 executions as a criminal justice reporter in Texas, will retire Tuesday after nearly 46 years with the news service.
Graczyk, 68, may have observed more executions than any other person in the United States since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. Millions of readers in Texas and beyond relied on his coverage of capital punishment in America's most active death penalty state.
He built a reputation for accuracy and fairness with death row inmates, their families, their victims' families and their lawyers, as well as prison officials and advocates on both sides of capital punishment. He made a point of visiting and photographing every condemned inmate willing to be interviewed and talking to relatives of their victims. Over time, he gained notoriety himself as an authority on the death penalty and a witness to history.
Even after retiring, Graczyk will con…