USA | The Dreadful Failure of Lethal Injection

Editor’s Note: This column is the product of a research collaboration with five Amherst College students, Mattea Denny, Nicolas Graber-Mitchell, Greene Ko, Rose Mroczka, and Lauren Pelosi. America’s death penalty continues to fall out of favor, a well-known fact. When the year started, eight executions were scheduled for February and March in five different states. But all of them are now on hold, and two of the three executions that were set for April already have been halted. While advocacy for the end of the death penalty has played some role, it is the decomposition of the lethal injection paradigm that has truly driven down execution numbers. We have now seen a decade of chaos and experimentation as death penalty jurisdictions tried to find reliable sources of drugs to carry out executions. States rolled out new drugs, but things did not go smoothly. The number of mishaps associated with lethal injection increased substantially. From 2010-2020, an already problematic method of ex

Wyoming Senate defeats death penalty repeal bill, again

CHEYENNE — Lawmakers voted to defeat a bill to repeal Wyoming’s death penalty on Thursday evening, following a passionate debate on the Senate floor.

Sen. Brian Boner, R-Douglas, sponsored Senate File 150 primarily on fiscal grounds. Maintaining the option to sentence convicted defendants to death costs the state about $750,000 annually.

But the state has not executed a person for nearly three decades. No individuals currently sit on death row in Wyoming, and the state has conducted only a single execution in the past 40 years.

“Once again, let’s focus on the facts not feelings,” Boner told his colleagues. “The fact is once again, this does not do a service to the victims’ families ... Let’s go ahead and repeal it.”

Other supporters of the repeal bill called for eliminating the death penalty in the name of criminal justice reform. Nationally, 185 people who received wrongful convictions have been exonerated from death row since 1973, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

“I’d be hard pressed to believe at this point that someone along the way wasn’t convicted, executed and innocent,” Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, said in support of the bill.

Wyoming is one of 28 states that still allow the death penalty.

In 2019, a similar repeal bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, but failed to garner enough support in the full Senate. It failed by a 12-18 vote.

Opponents of the repeal bill said it was important to have the option to sentence individuals convicted of the most heinous of crimes.

“It’s holding people accountable,” Sen. Tara Nethercott, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, adding, “Wyoming uses it judiciously, and I’m proud of our history.”

Proponents of ending the death penalty lamented lawmakers’ decision on Thursday.

“Last week, both chambers passed budget legislation that will cut the public defender’s office death penalty representation,” Kylie Taylor, state coordinator of Wyoming Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, said in a statement. “Today’s vote to keep the death penalty, paired with that budget, risks a constitutional crisis. We have the death penalty — a failed government program that risks innocent lives — but no means to provide the right to an adequate defense, as defined by our Constitution. Many conservative lawmakers understand that, and we know it is only a matter of time before they revisit this broken policy and end Wyoming’s death penalty once and for all.”

The final vote on the bill was 11-19.

Source: kpvi.com, Camille Erickson, March 18, 2021

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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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