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NEW VOICES: Another Conservative Leader Challenges the Death Penalty

In an op-ed in the Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tennessean Drew Johnson evoked conservatives' intentions to "protect innocent life, promote financial responsibility and support government programs that really work" in criticizing the death penalty. Johnson, a Senior Fellow at Taxpayers Protection Alliance and founder of the Beacon Center of Tennessee, cited the many exonerations from death row as another reason to challenge capital punishment: "Life is too precious to rely on mistake-prone processes like the death penalty." He noted that the Tennessee Comptroller's Office's found capital trials to be 48% more expensive than life-without-parole trials. Finally, relying on the conservative value of limited government, he concluded, "My view of limited government is not giving the state the power to kill American citizens. There is nothing limited about that authority....It's time that conservative Tennesseans begin to look at the death penalty to consider whether it's consistent with our view of the role of government and decide if retribution and revenge is worth sacrificing our principles, freedoms and liberties." Read the full op-ed below.


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LETHAL INJECTION: Many States Changing Lethal Injection Process

On October 4, Ohio announced it will be obtaining its execution drug, pentobarbital, from a compounding pharmacy if it is not available from the manufacturer. Texas made a similar announcement a few days earler. In the past, some compounding pharmacies have been implicated in providing contaminated drugs with fatal side effects. These local companies are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Florida announced it will be using a new drug, midazolam, in its October 15 execution. The drug will be part of a 3-drug process and has never been used before in executions. The 3-drug process can be extremely painful if the first drug is not completely effective. Missouri intends to be the first state in the country to use the drug propofol in its October 23 execution, despite the fact that the drug company that delivered the drug has asked for its return. If Missouri goes ahead with the execution, European countries may impose restrictions on the exportation of this drug, thereby affecting other uses for vital surgeries in the U.S.  Finally, Tennessee will now use only a single drug, pentobarbital, in its executions, though it did not say where it hoped to obtain the drug.


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NEW VOICES: Retiring Federal Judge Condemns Death Penalty as Biased and Broken

Judge Boyce Martin took the occasion of his final death-penalty decision from the bench of the U.S. Court of Appeals to sharply criticize capital punishment in this country. While upholding the conviction and death sentence of the defendant, Harold Nichols, Judge Martin said, “I continue to condemn the use of the death penalty as an arbitrary, biased, and broken criminal justice tool.” He noted that the many years since Nichols’s conviction in 1990 have consumed "countless judicial hours, money, legal resources, and providing no closure for the families of the victims.” He added that resources spent on the death penalty could be better used for other programs: “The time, money, and energy spent trying to secure the death of this defendant would have been better spent improving this country’s mental-health and educational institutions, which may help prevent crimes such as the ones we are presented with today.” Judge Martin has served as a judge on the Sixth Circuit for more than three decades.


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