Tag Archive: death penalty

Mar 31 2015

Pharmacists Cut Off Supply of Lethal Injection Drugs

For the last couple of years pharmaceutical companies have been refusing to supply states with the drugs needed for lethal injection executions. Some of the states got creative and turned to compounding pharmacies for their supply of pentobarbital but the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists has come out with a statement discouraging members from helping states carry out executions. Then  American Pharmacists Association adopted the same policy

The policy states: “The American Pharmacists Association discourages pharmacist participation in executions on the basis that such activities are fundamentally contrary to the role of pharmacists as providers of health care.”

APhA Executive Vice President and CEO, Thomas E. Menighan, BSPharm, MBA, ScD (Hon), FAPhA, stated, “Pharmacists are health care providers and pharmacist participation in executions conflicts with the profession’s role on the patient health care team. This new policy aligns APhA with the execution policies of other major health care associations including the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association and the American Board of Anesthesiology.

Jul 25 2014

The Death Penalty: When Do We End State Sponsored Barbarism?

In the barbaric custom of using secret drugs to execute prisoners, the state of Arizona botched another state sponsored murder taking nearly two hours for convicted murder Joseph R. Wood III to die.

In another unexpectedly prolonged execution using disputed lethal injection drugs, a condemned Arizona prisoner on Wednesday repeatedly gasped for one hour and 40 minutes, according to witnesses, before dying at an Arizona state prison.

At 1:52 p.m. Wednesday, one day after the United States Supreme Court overturned a stay of execution granted by a federal appeals court last Saturday, the execution of Joseph R. Wood III commenced.

But what would normally be a 10- to 15-minute procedure dragged on for nearly two hours, as Mr. Wood appeared repeatedly to gasp, according to witnesses including reporters and one of his federal defenders, Dale Baich. [..]

Arizona officials said they were using the same sedative that was used in Oklahoma, midazolam, together with a different second drug, hydromorphone, a combination that has been used previously in Ohio. Similar problems were reported in the execution in Ohio in January of Dennis McGuire, using the same two drugs. He reportedly gasped as the procedure took longer than expected.

Capital punishment by lethal injection has been thrown into turmoil as the supplies of traditionally used barbiturates have dried up, in part because companies are unwilling to manufacture and sell them for this purpose.

A court order was issued to preserve Mr. Wood’s body and anything that was used during the execution. The medical examiner was also ordered to take blood and tissue samples by 11 PM last night but he refused to comply with the deadline.

While Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) has ordered the State Department of Corrections to review the execution, Mr. Wood’s attorneys have called for an independent inquiry:

“There has to be a thorough and independent review of what happened here and the Arizona execution protocol,” Dale Baich, a member of Wood’s legal team, told the Guardian.

Wood’s death reignites controversies about state secrecy and the suitability of drugs used to execute prisoners. It was the third time this year that a lethal injection procedure has gone wrong, following problems in Ohio and Oklahoma.  [..]

“We were concerned that the mixture of midazolam and hydromorphone had only been used in one prior execution and that did not turn out well, so we were very concerned about that and that’s why we asked as one of our requests: how did the state come up with the formula that it was using?” Baich said.

This is an experiment by people who have no clue about what they are doing and is barbaric. It just needs to stop.

Apr 04 2013

The Myth of Equal Justice

March 18 marked the fiftieth anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the landmark case by the Supreme Court that required states under the 14th amendment to provide counsel in criminal cases for defendants who are unable to afford to pay their own attorneys, extending the identical requirement made on the federal government under the 6th Amendment.

But is justice now equal?

The Legacy of Gideon v. Wainwright

by John Light, Moyers & Company

Anthony Lewis, The New York Times journalist whose masterwork chronicled the Supreme Court’s landmark Gideon v. Wainwright decision, died earlier this week at the age of 85. The court’s ruling, handed down 50 years ago last week, established a criminal defendant’s right to an attorney, even if that defendant cannot afford one. [..]

Here are some resources on Anthony Lewis and the legacy of Gideon v. Wainwright.

1. Gideon’s Trumpet

In 1964, Lewis, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, published his book Gideon’s Trumpet. In it, he described Clarence Earl Gideon as a wrongly convicted Florida man convinced that he was entitled to legal representation even though the state of Florida said otherwise. [..]

2. Defending Gideon

A new documentary from The Constitution Project and the New Media Advocacy Project examines the impact of Gideon v. Wainwright and includes a recent interview with Anthony Lewis as well as an archival interview from the 1960s with Gideon, who explains that he was surprised to hear from the trial judge that he was not entitled to a lawyer. [..]

3. “The Silencing of Gideon’s Trumpet”

Ten years ago, on the 40th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, Lewis described in The New York Times Magazine the “endless failures to bring the promise of Gideon to life.” He wrote, “Even more alarming is the assertion by the Bush administration that in a whole new class of cases it can deny the right to counsel altogether. [..]

4. Adam Liptak on Lewis’s Transformative Journalism

Adam Liptak, one of Lewis’s successors as Supreme Court correspondent for The New York Times, wrote the paper’s obituary of its former reporter and columnist. He noted that Gideon’s Trumpet has never been out of print from the day it was published, and that Lewis’s knowledgeable and thorough coverage of the court during the years Earl Warren served as its chief justice made him almost as essential to its history as the judges themselves. [..]

5. Andrew Cohen on Lewis and Gideon today

Writing in The Atlantic earlier this month, legal scholar Andrew Cohen described how, in the story of Gideon v. Wainwright, Lewis found material for one of the “best nonfiction works written about the Supreme Court and the American legal system.” [..]

But the thrust of Cohen’s essay is that Gideon’s legacy has not fared so well. A Brennan Center for Justice report found that many court appointed lawyers are overworked and spend less than six minutes per case at hearings where they counsel their clients to plead guilty. Lawmakers haven’t funded public defenders adequately, Cohen says, and the Supreme Court has not required them to do so.

On March 29th’s Moyers & Company, host Bill Moyers discussed the system’s failures, and ongoing struggles at the crossroads of race, class and justice with attorney and legal scholar Bryan Stevenson. Then Mr. Moyers is joined by journalists Martin Clancy and Tim O’Brien, authors of Murder at the Supreme Court, to examine the fatal flaws of the death penalty.

The broadcast closes with a Bill Moyers Essay on the hypocrisy of “justice for all” in a society where billions are squandered for a war born in fraud while the poor are pushed aside.



Full transcript can be read here

Mar 04 2013

Austerity Could End The Death Penalty

Someone has finally found the argument that could finally put an end to the death penalty, it costs too much. In the age of austerity, the cost to the state of Maryland to litigate the appeal of inmates on death row is three times higher than the cost of life in prison without parole:

In its 2008 report, the (Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment) wrote that the average cost of prosecuting and imprisoning a Death Row inmate was $3 million, nearly three times higher than the cost of convicting and sentencing a murderer to life imprisonment. Of that $3 million, $1.7 million is spent in the courtroom and $1.3 million is spent in a Supermax prison, the commission wrote. [..]

The commission determined that the state spent $1.8 million dollars for every failed attempt to impose the death penalty, including $950,000 in prison costs and $850,000 in adjudication costs.

Maryland’s Gov. Martin O’Malley said since the death penalty is not a crime deterrent and the exorbitant cost, it is time to end the death penalty in his state.

On Friday, the Maryland state Senate once again began debating a bill to repeal capital punishment in the state. It needs 24 votes to pass and 26 senators have already said publicly that they support the repeal.

Rather than funnel all of their focus into moral and social arguments, the bill’s supporters have been making their point partly in economic terms. The cost of prosecuting a death row case in Maryland can be as much as three times what it costs for a case seeking a life sentence without parole.

On Sunday’s Up with Chris Hayes, Bryan Stevenson, founder & executive Director of Equal Justice Initiative, professor at New York University School of Law, addressed how the savings could benefit public safety. He and Up host Chris Hayes were joined by panelists Mattea Kramer, the National Priorities Project; David Sirota, contributor to Salon.com; and Roberto Lovato, writer for New American Media, contributor to The Nation.

Aug 12 2012

Rant of the Week: Brent Wilkins, David Dayen and Cenk Uygur

Texas executes mentally retarded man

by Brett Wilkins

Ignoring its own ruling that prohibits the execution of mentally retarded individuals, the United States Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the appeal of a Texas man with an IQ of 61 convicted of murdering a police drug informant.

Following the high court’s denial, 54-year-old Marvin Wilson was executed by lethal injection at the state prison in Huntsville, Texas. [..]

Wilson’s attorneys based their appeal on the fact that his IQ was determined to be 61, well below 70, the threshold for mental retardation. Wilson’s IQ places him in the very bottom 1% of individuals for intellectual capacity. His reading and writing level was determined to be that of a 7-year-old child’s, and he could not hold down a job or even properly dress himself.

In Atkins v. Virginia (2002), the US Supreme Court ruled that executing such individuals was a violation of the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.

But Texas simply redefined retardation, based in part on the fictional character Lennie Small from John Steinbeck’s novel “Of Mice and Men.”

In establishing what are known as the Briseno factors, which Texas uses to determine whether an individual is retarded or not, the state implicitly asserts that anyone less mentally impaired than Steinbeck’s Lennie is fit for execution.

Steinbeck’s son Thomas slammed the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for using Lennie as a benchmark to determine who should be executed.

Scalia Denies Stay, Allows Execution of Mentally Retarded Man in Texas

by David Dayen

The Supreme Court justices have jurisdiction over various regions of the country when it comes to injunctions, particularly when it comes to stays of execution. In the case of Marvin Wilson, the mentally retarded man with an IQ of 61 and an intelligence level of a 6 year-old, set to die today in Texas in conjunction with a murder conviction, that appeal had to go through none other than Justice Antonin Scalia. Justice Scalia wrote a dissent (pdf) in the case of Atkins v. Virginia, which established the ban on executing the mentally retarded (Texas, like other states, got to set their own standards for what constitutes “retarded,” and as such plowed ahead with the execution of Wilson today). Scalia wrote that, because “Only the severely or profoundly mentally retarded, commonly known as idiots, enjoyed any special status under the law” in 1791, around the time of the establishment of the Eighth Amendment, he disagreed with the ruling. And so it should come as no surprise that he submitted this short response to the stay of Marvin Wilson today.

The application for stay of execution of sentence of death presented to Justice Scalia and by him referred to the Court is denied. The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

This condemns a man with a 61 IQ to death. Scalia wrote in his Atkins dissent, “Seldom has an opinion of this Court rested so obviously upon nothing but the personal views of its members.” That’s my sentiment exactly. Scalia has a ruling which clearly states that executing the mentally retarded violates the Eighth Amendment. But Scalia doesn’t agree, so he decided to allow Texas to violate the ruling.

Why Do Some Americans Have Such Tremendous BLOOD LUST?

Sep 22 2011

Silence For Troy Davis

   

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As I write this, the Georgia authorities are killing Troy Davis. He was let down by the “justice” system. And the Supreme Court. And by those of us who are horrified when the state kills innocent people. There is nothing more to do or say. He is being killed. Please join me in 24 hours of silence in honor of his memory.

Sep 22 2011

Live Stream from Georgia Prison: Up Dated

@democracynow Democracy Now!

UPDATE: We extend our live coverage of #TroyDavis case to 10pm EDT as decision from US Supreme Court pending. WATCH owl.li/6BhWb

From Alternet

RT @jeremyscahill: Ben Jealous & Amnesty both said stay. Now @democracynow is saying Davis has not bn executed, but stay not confirmed

From Jeremy Scahill:

Producers of @democracynow tell me they will continue their live-streaming coverage of #TroyDavis until at least 9pm

Watch live streaming video from democracynow at livestream.com

Sep 21 2011

Fasting With Troy Davis on 9/21

   

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The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied Troy Davis’s request for clemency. It appears that Georgia will kill him by lethal injection at 7 pm ET on September 21, 2011. And it appears that execution cannot be stopped.

From Ben Jeanlous at the NAACP an eloquent, moving request that we fast tomorrow evening and mark the time of Troy Davis’s execution:

Sep 20 2011

An Outrage In Georgia

The Georgia Pardon and Parole Board has DENIED clemency to Troy Davis.  The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports:


The state Board of Pardons and Paroles on Monday has denied clemency for Troy Anthony Davis after hearing pleas for mercy from Davis’ family and calls for his execution by surviving relatives of a murdered Savannah police officer.

Davis’ case has already taken more unexpected turns than just about any death-penalty case in Georgia history and his innocence claims have attracted international attention. Its resolution was postponed once again when the parole board late Monday announced it would not be making an immediate decision as to whether Davis should live or die.

Davis, 42, is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the state prison in Jackson.

I doubt there are other legal steps that can stop the state from killing Troy Davis.

My heart goes out to Troy Davis and his family, and also to the McPhail family.  They all deserve better.

Sep 17 2011

I Am Troy Davis

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On September 21, 2011, the State of Georgia plans to kill Troy Davis by lethal injection.  Again.  This is the fourth time the State of Georgia has scheduled Davis for death.  In 2007 he was spared with less than 24 hours notice.  In September 2008, the hearse was waiting at the door and he was less than two hours away from the gurney.  A month later the execution was halted three days before execution.  And now, the rollercoaster from hope to despair has come to September 21, 2011.

Troy Davis’s conviction stems from the 1989 death of a Savannah police officer, Mark Allen McPhail.  The rollercoaster, for Troy Davis and his family and for the family of the officer, has been lurching back and forth for 22 years.  And with each year, doubt about the conviction has grown as witnesses have recanted and as jurors speak their unresolved doubts.  Lurking in the background is alarming possibility that the wrong man is waiting for the needle and that the real murderer has escaped.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports:


With only days before his scheduled execution, an effort to spare convicted killer Troy Davis is gathering thousands in rallies, vigils and other last-minute events from Atlanta to Peru to Berlin.

Citing doubts about his guilt, national leaders of the NAACP and Amnesty International led hundreds in a protest Friday against executing the man a Georgia jury said killed a Savannah police officer in 1989. Amnesty International declared a Global Day of Solidarity for Troy Davis, with 300 events across the United States and the globe, including in New York, Washington D.C., San Diego, Paris and Oslo.

Former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu are among those calling for his execution to be halted. And this week, Davis supporters presented 663,000 petitions to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles asking for his life to be spared.

Troy Davis has one last chance to ask for leniency. The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, which has the sole authority in Georgia to commute death sentences, will meet Monday to consider Davis’s case.

That means that this weekend is the last opportunity to sign a petition and to stand with more than 600,000 others for sparing Troy Davis.

The petition is here.

Details about the case are here from 2006 and here from 2008.

An excellent first person view is here (h/t OPOL).

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cross-posted from The Dream Antilles

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