Posts

Showing posts from October, 2022

FEATURED POST

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

Image
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

Florida | Would a Death Sentence Help The Parkland Families Heal?

Image
Outrage around the school shooter’s sentence reveals tensions between what some victims’ families want and the justice system’s limits. After a Florida jury voted to sentence Nikolas Cruz to life in prison earlier this month for the murders of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School,  news coverage  focused on the disappointment and rage of his victims’ families. Many of them wanted the death penalty, and some will speak in court at his sentencing on Nov. 1. Cruz’s trial featured days of defense testimony about his adversities, including his mother’s drug and alcohol use while he was developing in utero. That was his right — the Supreme Court  long ago said , when the death penalty is on the table, juries must consider the whole person, not just the single crime — but it left the impression that Cruz had won a sympathy contest. “This jury failed our families today,” Fred Guttenberg, the father of Jaime Guttenberg,  told reporters . Soon after, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sugges

Branson turns down Singapore death penalty debate

Image
British tycoon Richard Branson has rejected an invitation to debate Singapore’s interior minister on the death penalty but doubled down on criticism that grew over the execution of a Malaysian man. The Ministry of Home Affairs invited Branson, a long-time campaigner against capital punishment, this month for a live televised debate with the interior minister on the death penalty and Singapore’s approach to illicit drugs. The ministry even offered to fly the Virgin Group founder to the city-state to show why Singapore should do away with laws it said had kept its “safe from the global scourge of drug abuse”. The British billionaire turned down the invitation and said the “brave thing” for officials to do would be to engage with local activists. “They deserve to be listened to, not ignored, or worse yet, harassed,” Branson said in a letter posted on the Virgin website. RELATED |  Let’s talk about Singapore’s death penalty “A television debate – limited in time and scope, always at risk o

Florida Study Documents Disproportionate Exclusion of Black Jurors in Jacksonville Death Penalty Cases

Image
2/3 of Black women and more than 1/2 of Black men have been struck from jury service in Duval County death penalty cases, more than double the rate at which white prospective jurors are excluded, a study of capital jury selection in the Florida county has found. The study, Racialized Impacts of Death Disqualification in Duval County, Florida , conducted by University of Central Florida criminal justice professor Dr. Jacinta M. Gau, was the centerpiece of a challenge to the county’s capital-case jury selection practices brought by lawyers for the ACLU on behalf of Dennis Glover in his capital resentencing trial. Glover was unconstitutionally sentenced to death by a Duval County judge in 2015 following a non-unanimous sentencing recommendation by his jury. On October 21, 2022, State Attorney Melissa Nelson withdrew the death penalty from Glover’s case, avoiding a hearing on the jury issue, and the court resentenced Glover to life without parole. Dr. Gau reviewed transcripts and other mat

Texas Election Could Determine Fate of Death Row Inmates

Image
Texas voters are among a minority of Americans whose ballots include the state's courts. And this year, Texans could potentially shake up the Court of Criminal Appeals, which has the power to appeal the sentences of the 191 inmates currently on death row. Texas is 1 of 7 states that elects its own judges in partisan elections and 1 of 2 states with a bifurcated appellate process, meaning there are separate appeals courts for civil and criminal matters. Although the state has 14 lower courts, where criminal cases are typically heard before they reach the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, death penalty cases are unique and go directly to the Court of Criminal Appeals, the state's highest criminal court. Of the Court of Criminal Appeals' 9 members, 3 judges are up for re-election this year: Mary Lou Keel, Scott Walker and Jesse McClure, although Keel is running uncontested. Currently, all 9 judges are Republicans. Democrats have not won a seat on the court since the late 1990s.

Iran trial opens for 5 facing death penalty over protests

Image
The 5 protesters on trial are among hundreds of Iranians detained because of the anti-government movement sweeping Iran since September. The trial of 5 Iranians charged with offences that can carry capital punishment over protests sparked by Mahsa Amini's death opened Saturday in Tehran, the judiciary's news website said. The Islamic republic has witnessed a wave of protests over the death of 22-year-old Amini on September 16 after her arrest by the morality police in Tehran for allegedly violating the country's strict dress code for women. The street violence, which authorities have dubbed "riots", has led to dozens of deaths, mostly among demonstrators but also among the security forces. Hundreds of protesters including women have been arrested. "The 1st hearing of a number of defendants from the recent riots opened this morning at Tehran's revolutionary tribunal," the judiciary's Mizan Online website said. Charges have been filed against more

USA | Paying the Price of the Lethal Injection Business

Image
The illusion of a humane execution is causing more pain, and wasting taxpayer money. One year ago, on Oct. 28, 2021, John Marion Grant was put to death by lethal injection; specifically, a 3-drug combination of a barbiturate to anesthetize (midazolam), curare to paralyze (vecuronium bromide), and potassium chloride to induce cardiac arrest. The constituents of the three-drug cocktail are telling: the midazolam is meant to put the prisoner to sleep, and the paralytic is only used to shield the witnesses from seeing what happens when the victim is injected with the third drug, a profoundly painful poison. Yet, a “botched” execution may occur where an individual drug is improperly compounded or where the needle is not inserted properly in a vein by an incompetent technician. Despite claims of an execution “without complication” by the Department of Corrections spokesman Justin Wolf, witnesses and Grant’s autopsy painted a painful picture of his last moments. Once strapped to the gurney, G

Idaho Supreme Court says it won’t reconsider death row clemency case

Image
State may still seek death warrant for Gerald Ross Pizzuto Jr. The Idaho Supreme Court says it will not reconsider the clemency case of a terminally ill man who is facing execution for his role in the 1985 slayings of 2 gold prospectors near McCall. The high court made the decision Friday in Gerald Ross Pizzuto Jr.’s case. The decision means the state remains free to seek a death warrant for Pizzuto. Once issued, the warrant would set Pizzuto’s execution by lethal injection in the next 30 days. Deborah A. Czuba, the head of the Federal Defender Services of Idaho’s capital case unit, said in a prepared statement that the Idaho Supreme Court decision was disappointing. “There is still time for Gov. Brad Little to accept the recommendation of his parole commissioners and let Mr. Pizzuto die a natural death in prison,” Czuba said. “If not, our hope is that the state will have enough grace to wait at least until after the Thanksgiving and Christmas season before making Department of Correct

Japan | Give death row inmates more time to prepare for their fate: Editorial

Image
Asahi Shimbun editorials have called for the death penalty to be abolished. Although it seems unlikely that Japan will abolish capital punishment any time soon, changes in the related procedures should be made. Even condemned convicts are individuals whose dignity and rights should be protected. Procedures for their executions should meet human rights standards. Death row inmates are informed of their executions on the day they are carried out and then escorted to the scaffold. They are put to death within 1 or 2 hours of being told the day has finally arrived. The Osaka District Court is hearing a case filed by two condemned prisoners contesting the constitutionality of informing convicts of their executions only hours before they take place. The lawsuit submitted in November asserts the practice violates Article 31 of the Constitution, which states that no “criminal penalty be imposed, except according to procedure established by law.” In explaining the policy of informing death row