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Showing posts from January, 2022

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USA | Lethal Injections Are Crueler Than Most People Imagine. I’ve Seen the Evidence Firsthand.

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Alabama is pausing the use of the execution method after two botched attempts, but physicians need to refuse to ever participate in making them possible. Lethal injection is not a medical act, but it impersonates one. The method of judicial execution works by shuttling medicines, repurposed as poison, directly into a vein via an intravenous catheter. Intravenous use is a ubiquitous method for drug and fluid delivery that most anyone might recognize, either by direct experience when sick or by observation in others when others are sick. According to the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, punishment cannot be cruel, and when lethal injection causes death, the outward result can be extraordinarily mild and bloodless. I speak from experience. As a physician, I was invited by Georgia prisoner Marcus Wellons to watch his execution on June 17, 2014. Lethal injection is a highly curated event; even my medical trained eye could detect very little. Wellons died quietly and quickly. I’ve

India | Why prisoners on death row has hit a record high

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India’s death row population shot up to 488 in 2021 with fewer appeal hearings in a pandemic-stalled year. This was a 21% rise over the previous year’s count of 404, a new report by the National Law University's Project 39A said on Monday. “When compared with data from the National Crime Records Bureau, this is the highest the death row population has been since 2004, when it was 563,” the ‘Death Penalty in India: Annual Statistics Report 2021’ said. The report put it down to 2 things – the number of death sentences by trial courts shot up (from 78 in 2020 to 144 in 2021) while higher courts were able to take up fewer appeals over the past 2 years (the Supreme Court, for instance, listed 6 death sentence cases in 2021, down from 28 in 2019). “The limited functioning of appellate courts in both 2020 and 2021 meant fewer appeals of prisoners sentenced to death being decided, and a far greater number of prisoners remaining on death row at the end of the year,” the report said. Unlike

California Moves to Dismantle Nation's Largest Death Row

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom is moving to dismantle the nation’s largest death row by moving all condemned inmates to other prisons. SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who three years ago placed a moratorium on executions, now is moving to dismantle the nation's largest death row by moving all condemned inmates to other prisons within two years. The goal is to turn the section at San Quentin State Prison into a "positive, healing environment.” “We are starting the process of closing death row to repurpose and transform the current housing units into something innovative and anchored in rehabilitation,” corrections department spokeswoman Vicky Waters told The Associated Press. California, which last carried out an execution in 2006, is one of 28 states that maintain death rows, along with the U.S. government, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. While other states like Illinois have abolished executions, California is merging its condemned inm

The Guillotine Was Invented For Mercy, Not Mass Murder

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The guillotine is one of the most recognizable execution devices in the world. The iconic appearance of the fearsome angled blade ranks up there with the gallows and the cross as the more prominent images of human execution.  The guillotine dominated a gruesome part of European history and continues to engage the imagination to this day. But the guillotine was never supposed to become the killing machine that it did. When the French physician Joseph-Ignace Guillotin advocated for the use of the beheading device as a method of execution, he could not have known that it would be used to kill thousands of his countrymen. The guillotine was initially invented as a mercy device. It was supposed to be a modernization of Medieval execution methods that had grown gory and inhumane. Enlightened people could not bear to kill people in such ways any longer. There had to be a better way. Those condemned to die should not also have to be tortured en-route to their final punishment. A death penalty

Alabama’s Execution of Matthew Reeves Signals Methods of Execution Mess in the U.S.

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On Thursday the United States Supreme Court gave Alabama the go-ahead to execute Matthew Reeves , an intellectually disabled death row inmate. His execution was carried out by lethal injection just a few hours later, even though Reeves wanted to be put to death by nitrogen hypoxia. It’s hard to know which is worse: that they executed an intellectually disabled man in the first place or that they ignored his wish to avoid dying by lethal injection. The state actually gave him and everyone else on the state’s death row that grotesque choice in a kind of “speak now or forever hold your peace” ritual. Last June, all of them were marched out of their cells and into the prison yard at Alabama’s William C. Holman Correctional Facility. There they heard a surprising presentation. They were told that they could take advantage of a law enacted in March, 2018 authorizing nitrogen hypoxia as an execution method. They could thus choose the method the state would use to kill them. If they wanted

Iran’s regime executed two men based on anti-gay charges

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Iran’s regime frequently uses the charge of sodomy to impose the death penalty on gays and lesbians. The Islamic Republic of Iran continued its lethal homophobic policy, executing on Sunday two men based on its anti-gay Sharia law system. The two Iranian men, Mehrdad Karimpou and Farid Mohammadi, were killed in the Maragheh prison in northwestern Iran, according to the organization Human Rights Network in Iran. The men were arrested six years ago. Iran’s regime frequently uses the charge of sodomy to impose the death penalty on gays and lesbians. According to a 2008 British Wikipedia dispatch, Iran’s theocratic state executed between 4,000 and 6,000 gays and lesbians since the country’s 1979 Islamic revolution. Human Rights Network in Iran said the Iranian regime-controlled media has not reported on the executions of the two men based on the country’s anti-gay law. “The two Iranian men were executed today after being found guilty of charges related to homosexuality," Iran Human Ri

Netflix Confirms ‘Squid Game’ Season 2

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In Squid Game‘s first season, a mysterious organization recruits 456 broke contestants to play children’s games to win approximately $38.5 million. Losers, however, receive the death penalty for their punishment. Netflix’s most-viewed series ever, Squid Game, is slated for a second season according to CEO and chief content officer, Ted Sarandos. This is no surprise, considering that Netflix subscribers streamed 1.65 billion hours of the show only 28 days after its release. Sarandos declared that the Squid Game universe “has just begun” and believes that the South Korean thriller/drama has potential for reaching media outside the streaming service such as games, merchandise and live experiences. Squid Game creator Hwang Dong-hyuk had previously said that he has a vision for season 2. “There’s been so much pressure, so much demand and so much love for a second season. So I almost feel like you leave us no choice,” he said. “But I will say there will indeed be a second season. It’s in my

SCOTUS | Amy Coney Barrett is among 4 justices who would have blocked execution of inmate seeking death by nitrogen hypoxia

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An Alabama inmate who sought execution by nitrogen hypoxia was put to death by lethal injection Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the execution to proceed. Justice Amy Coney Barrett was among 4 justices who would have kept an injunction in place that prevented execution of the inmate, 43-year-old Matthew Reeves . She did not join the dissent, however, by Justice Elena Kagan that was joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen G. Breyer. Reeves’ lawyers had contended that he failed to choose execution by nitrogen hypoxia because he didn’t understand the form presenting the choices. Reeves read at a grade-school level because of cognitive deficiencies, according to the evidence. Reeves claimed that the Americans with Disabilities Act required prison officials to explain the form to him. A federal judge and the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Atlanta had prevented Reeves’ execution. The appeals court had reasoned that Reeves would still be executed by hydrogen hypoxia

Alabama | Former HPD officer in court, state seeking death penalty

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McCoy is charged with capital murder in the Jan. 7 shooting death of Courtney Spraggins, his 24-weeks pregnant girlfriend. At the time of the murder, McCoy was a Huntsville Police Department officer. He has since been fired. Former Huntsville Police Department Officer David McCoy made his 1st court appearance on Friday since being charged with capital murder. McCoy was in a Madison County courtroom today dressed in a jail uniform. McCoy is accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend, 26-year-old Courtney Spraggins in mid-January. McCoy was off-duty at the time and the murder occurred at the Weston Ranch Apartments. Madison County District Attorney Tim Gann said that the prosecution is seeking the death penalty. “You’ve got a young woman who has her life ahead of her and an unborn child,” Gann said. “This is clearly a case we will seek the death penalty on.” According to investigators, McCoy admitted to shooting Spraggins, but doesn’t remember how the event unfolded. McCoy said that he r

Uganda | Ex-minister who backed death penalty for gay people dies

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KAMPALA — A former Ugandan ethics minister who championed a bill to introduce the death penalty for same-sex relationships and sought to regulate what women could wear died on Saturday, officials said. Simon Lokodo — a one-time Catholic priest ex-communicated by the church, whose homophobia attracted global condemnation — died aged 64 in a hospital in Geneva. Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo announced the news of Lokodo’s death during a radio program on Saturday. The country’s National Human Rights Commission, where Lokodo served after a decade as ethics minister, expressed “great shock and pain” at losing their colleague. President Yoweri Museveni said Lokodo “served the nation gallantly” and would be missed. His “firmness against immorality & his desire to enforce culture exceedingly stood out”, Museveni said in a tribute posted on Twitter. Lokodo was best known internationally for drafting legislation that could have imposed the death penalty for homosexual relations in his ho

Congo court sentences dozens to death over UN expert murders

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KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — A military court in Congo has condemned about 50 people to death nearly five years after the murders of United Nations investigators Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan in central Congo’s Kasai region. The President of the Kasai Occidental Military Court, Brig. Gen. Jean-Paulin Ntshayokolo said Saturday that of the 54 defendants, one officer is sentenced to 10 years for violating orders and two others were acquitted. Those sentenced to death will serve out life sentences, as Congo has observed a moratorium on the death penalty since 2003. Sharp of the United States and Catalan of Sweden were assassinated on March 12, 2017 in the Kasai Central region while on a field visit with representatives of Kamwina Nsapu, a militia active in Kasai whose customary chief Jean-Pierre Mponde was killed by Congolese army troops in August 2016. Sharp, the panel’s coordinator and expert on armed groups, and Catalan, a humanitarian expert, embarked on the field visit from Kananga, the p