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

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…

Nebraska plans morning execution for death-row inmate

Potassium chloride
Nebraska prison officials have scheduled a morning execution next month for their longest-serving death-row inmate as they prepare to carry out the state's 1st-ever lethal injection with a never-before-used combination of drugs.

Carey Dean Moore's execution is expected to take place at 10 a.m. on Aug. 14 at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln, the Department of Correctional Services announced Friday in a news release.

The Nebraska Supreme Court set the date earlier this month when it issued a death warrant for Moore, who was sentenced to death for the 1979 murders of 2 Omaha taxicab drivers, Reuel Van Ness, Jr. and Maynard Helgeland. Moore, 60, has spent 38 years on Nebraska's death row.

Corrections Director Scott Frakes said in a statement the prison is following the procedures "to ensure the order of the court is enforced."

Corrections officials plan to execute Moore by lethal injection with diazepam, commonly known as Valium; the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl citrate, the paralytic cisatracurium besylate; and potassium chloride to stop the heart. The corrections department's supply of potassium chloride is set to expire at the end of August.

Department officials have said all 4 drugs were purchased in the United States, but declined to say how the drugs were obtained or who provided them. They're currently fighting lawsuits by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska and Nebraska media outlets that could force them to release documents identifying the supplier.

Nebraska's last execution was in 1997, using the electric chair, but the state Supreme Court later declared the chair unconstitutional.

Corrections officials said they're contacting witnesses for the execution. State law allows three witnesses to attend on behalf of Moore, in addition to one member of the clergy. As many as three witnesses may attend on behalf of the victims' families.

Additionally, Frakes may designate up to 6 other people to witness the execution. 2 of those must be professional members of the Nebraska news media.

After years of delays, Moore has stopped fighting state officials' efforts to execute him, and he recently accused them of being too "lazy or incompetent" to carry out his sentence. He filed a motion in May to dismiss his court-appointed lawyer, but the state Supreme Court denied his request. Moore also [directed] his attorney to stop fighting the state's attempts to execute him.

Moore's attorney, Jeff Pickens of the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, has said he hasn't submitted any new court filings in the case since receiving that order. Pickens did not immediately respond to a phone message.

Source: Associated Press, July 28, 2018

Carey Dean Moore's execution will be 1st in nation to use 4-drug protocol

Death chamber
A morning execution has been set for double-murderer Carey Dean Moore, a schedule used in the past to avoid demonstrations by rowdy, late-night crowds outside the prison.

The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services announced Friday that the execution of Moore, condemned for killing 2 Omaha cabdrivers in 1979, will occur at 10 a.m. on Aug. 14.

The execution at the State Penitentiary in Lincoln will be the state's 1st using lethal injection, and the 1st in the nation to use the 4-drug protocol recently adopted by state prison officials.

State law allows 3 witnesses to attend the execution on Moore's behalf and 1 member of the clergy. Up to 3 witnesses will be allowed to attend on behalf of the victims' families.

Corrections Director Scott Frakes may designate up to 6 more people to witness the execution, including 2 witnesses who must be members of the media.

A press release from the Corrections Department on Friday said the witnesses had not yet been named, and that the time of the execution squared with past practices.

The state's last execution, in 1997, was carried out in the morning. Nebraska prison officials said they switched to a mid-morning execution for Robert Williams to avoid the raucous, party-like atmosphere that surrounded the 2 previous nighttime executions of Harold Lamont Otey in 1994 and John Joubert in 1996.

Otey's execution attracted a crowd of more than 1,000, including many who carried signs and some who sang the song "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" after it was announced that the death sentence had been carried out.

When Williams was executed, fewer than 60 people gathered outside the State Penitentiary, and the atmosphere was described as "much quieter" and "mellow."

Moore, 60, shot Omaha cabdrivers Maynard Helgeland and Reuel Van Ness 5 days apart in 1979. He was sentenced to death in 1980 and has served more time than any of Nebraska's other 11 death row inmates.

The execution warrant says the Corrections Department shall carry out the sentence by "administering to appellant, Carey Dean Moore, an intravenous injection of substance or substances in a quantity sufficient to cause death, as provided by law."

Prison officials announced late last year that they had obtained 4 lethal injection drugs to carry out executions, including the powerful opioid fentanyl. The state has refused to reveal where it obtained the drugs, which critics, including the ACLU of Nebraska, say is a dangerous flaw, given the state's past problems in obtaining lethal injection drugs from foreign suppliers.

1 of the state's drugs is set to expire at the end of August. The attorney general had asked the State Supreme Court to set the date on July 10, citing concerns about the drug expiring.

Source: omaha.com, July 28, 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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