Entries tagged with “Execution Protocols

Policy Issues

Costs

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Federal Death Penalty

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Aug 24, 2020

ACLU Lawsuit Seeks Information on Cost and Public Health Risks of Federal Executions

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and American Civil Liberties Foundation have filed a law­suit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) seek­ing a court order requir­ing the BOP to dis­close how much the fed­er­al government’s resump­tion of fed­er­al exe­cu­tions is cost­ing tax­pay­ers and what steps the gov­ern­ment has under­tak­en to assess and address the COVID-19 pub­lic health risks cre­at­ed by the exe­cu­tions. As the nation faces both dire pub­lic health and eco­nom­ic crises,” the law­suit says, the fed­er­al government’s actions pri­or­i­tiz­ing the use of American tax dol­lars on executions…

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Jun 01, 2022

Autopsies Show Excess Fluid in Lungs of All Four Prisoners Put to Death in Oklahoma Execution Spree

Autopsies of the four men exe­cut­ed by Oklahoma between October 2021 and February 2022 show that all four pris­on­ers had excess flu­id in their lungs, giv­ing addi­tion­al cre­dence to death-row pris­on­ers’ claims that Oklahoma’s lethal-injec­tion process will sub­ject them to an uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­ly tor­tur­ous death.

Executions

Botched Executions

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Lethal Injection

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Feb 14, 2022

Autopsy Shows John Grant Suffered Pulmonary Edema and Intramuscular Hemorrhage and Aspirated Vomit During Oklahoma Execution

Autopsy results for an Oklahoma death-row pris­on­er whose exe­cu­tion state offi­cials claimed was car­ried out … with­out com­pli­ca­tion” have con­firmed eye­wit­ness reports that John Grant like­ly suf­fered a tor­tur­ous death. The autop­sy, con­duct­ed by Tulsa Medical Examiner Jeremy Shelton, M.D., the morn­ing after Grant was exe­cut­ed on October 28, 2021, revealed that Grant suf­fered pul­monary ede­ma and intra­mus­cu­lar hem­or­rhag­ing, and aspi­rat­ed on his vom­it as a result of the lethal injection.

Policy Issues

Representation

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United States Supreme Court

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Lethal Injection

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Federal Death Penalty

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Jun 19, 2020

Capital Case Roundup — Death Penalty Court Decisions the Week of June 152020

NEWS (6/​19/​20) — California: In one of the few cap­i­tal tri­als to move for­ward dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, a San Jose jury acquit­ted Manuel Anthony Lopez of charges that he had raped and mur­dered his girlfriend’s two-year-old son. Lopez, who had been jailed four years await­ing tri­al, had con­sis­tent­ly pro­fessed his inno­cence, and news reports said his lead defense coun­sel, Santa Clara County deputy pub­lic defend­er Michael Ogul, believed so strong­ly in Lopez’s inno­cence that he post­poned his retire­ment two years to be able to see the case to its…

Policy Issues

Representation

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United States Supreme Court

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Lethal Injection

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Apr 05, 2021

Capital Case Roundup — Death Penalty Court Decisions the Week of March 292021

NEWS (3/​31/​21) — Florida: After find­ing that Florida death-row pris­on­er William Greg Thomas was enti­tled to present an untime­ly habeas cor­pus peti­tion because his pri­or lawyer had aban­doned him, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reviewed but denied Thomas’ chal­lenge to his con­vic­tion and death sen­tence. The court held that Thomas was enti­tled to equi­table tolling of the habeas cor­pus statute of lim­i­ta­tions but ruled that his inef­fec­tive assis­tance claims were either pro­ce­du­ral­ly barred or with­out merit.

Policy Issues

Secrecy

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Lethal Injection

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Dec 02, 2020

Citing State’s Lack of Execution Drugs, South Carolina Supreme Court Stays Richard Moore’s Execution

Saying that the state lacked the abil­i­ty to car­ry out a lethal injec­tion, the South Carolina Supreme Court has stayed the sched­uled December 4, 2020 exe­cu­tion of Richard Moore (pic­tured). With no state exe­cu­tions sched­uled for the remain­der of the year, the stay means that states will car­ry out few­er exe­cu­tions in 2020 than in any year since 1983.

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Mar 11, 2021

Civil Rights Groups Accuse California District Attorneys of Unlawfully Interfering in Death Penalty Lawsuit

Five civ­il rights orga­ni­za­tions have asked a California appeals court to block the efforts of three coun­ty dis­trict attor­neys to lift stays of exe­cu­tion agreed to by the state as part of a fed­er­al-court set­tle­ment of death-row pris­on­ers’ chal­lenge to California’s lethal-injec­tion pro­to­col. [UPDATE: On March 9, 2021, the First District Court of Appeals dis­missed the groups’ lawsuit.]

Executions

Executions Overview

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Federal Death Penalty

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Jul 06, 2021

Department of Justice Formally Pauses Federal Executions to Review Trump Death-Penalty Regulations

In a mem­o­ran­dum that left to Congress the task of address­ing sys­temic ques­tions of arbi­trari­ness, racial dis­crim­i­na­tion, and wrong­ful con­vic­tions affect­ing the admin­is­tra­tion of the fed­er­al death penal­ty, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland (pic­tured) issued a direc­tive for­mal­ly paus­ing fed­er­al exe­cu­tions while the Department of Justice (DOJ) under­takes a review of exec­u­tive branch poli­cies adopt­ed in the last two years of the Trump administration.

Executions

Upcoming Executions

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Federal Death Penalty

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Dec 28, 2020

District Court Voids Lisa Montgomery Execution Date; Federal Prosecutors Appeal

Saying the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) act­ed unlaw­ful­ly in reset­ting Lisa Montgomerys exe­cu­tion for January 12, 2021, a fed­er­al judge in Washington has for a sec­ond time blocked efforts by the U.S. Department of Justice to put to death the only woman on fed­er­al death row. In an order issued late in the day on December 24, 2020, U.S. District Court Judge Randolph D. Moss agreed with Montgomery’s lawyers that the BOP lacked legal author­i­ty to resched­ule Montgomery’s exe­cu­tion while a pre-exist­ing stay of exe­cu­tion is still in place,…

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Mar 10, 2022

Evidence of Torturous’ Fluid in the Lungs, Drug Mislabeling Highlight Federal Trial on Constitutionality of Oklahoma Lethal-Injection Protocol

A six-day fed­er­al tri­al on the con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of Oklahomas lethal-injec­tion pro­to­col has con­clud­ed, with med­ical experts for the state’s death-row pris­on­ers cit­ing autop­sy and eye­wit­ness evi­dence to call the process tor­tur­ous” and doc­tors for the state deny­ing that pris­on­ers suf­fered as they were being put to death.

Executions

Botched Executions

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Lethal Injection

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Oct 29, 2021

Eyewitnesses Report John Grant Experienced Repeated Full-Body Convulsions’ and Vomited During Execution; Oklahoma Says Execution was Carried Out Without Complication’

Oklahomas lega­cy of botched exe­cu­tions has con­tin­ued to grow, as media wit­ness­es to the October 28, 2021 exe­cu­tion of John Grant (pic­tured) report­ed that Grant suf­fered repeat­ed con­vul­sions and vom­it­ed over a near­ly 15-minute peri­od after he was admin­is­tered the con­tro­ver­sial exe­cu­tion drug midazolam.

Facts & Research

United States Supreme Court

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Federal Death Penalty

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Jul 17, 2020

Federal Government Carries Out Third Execution in One Week, As Challenges to Execution Protocol Fail

The United States gov­ern­ment car­ried out its third exe­cu­tion in four days on July 17, 2020, exe­cut­ing Dustin Honken (pic­tured). The week’s exe­cu­tions dou­bled the num­ber of pris­on­ers the gov­ern­ment has put to death since Congress reau­tho­rized the fed­er­al death penal­ty in 1988.

Executions

Federal Death Penalty

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Sep 23, 2020

Federal Government Conducts Sixth and Seventh Executions Amid Continuing Litigation Over COVID-19 and the Legality of Its Execution Protocol

The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment con­duct­ed its sixth and sev­enth exe­cu­tions in ten weeks on September 22 and 24, putting William Emmett LeCroy (pic­tured) and Christopher Vialva to death amid con­tin­u­ing chal­lenges to the fed­er­al exe­cu­tion pro­to­col and to car­ry­ing out exe­cu­tions dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. As the fed­er­al appeal courts set aside LeCroy’s exe­cu­tion chal­lenges, Vialva’s law­suit chal­leng­ing the legal­i­ty of the fed­er­al exe­cu­tion pro­to­col remained pend­ing in the U.S. Supreme Court. After the Court denied Vialva’s stay appli­ca­tion and peti­tion for review, his exe­cu­tion moved for­ward on September 24.

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Jun 09, 2022

Federal Judge Upholds Oklahoma Lethal-Injection Protocol, Rejecting Prisoners’ Evidence of Torturous Executions

Judge Stephen Friot (pic­tured) of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma has ruled that Oklahomas lethal-injec­tion pro­to­col is con­sti­tu­tion­al. After hold­ing a week-long hear­ing on the state’s three-drug pro­to­col in February and March 2022, Judge Friot cred­it­ed the tes­ti­mo­ny of state experts over the pris­on­ers’ expert tes­ti­mo­ny on the like­li­hood that the pro­to­col would result in severe pain. While attor­neys for the 28 pris­on­ers who brought the suit can appeal the rul­ing, Oklahoma’s Attorney General plans to seek exe­cu­tion war­rants immediately.

Policy Issues

Intellectual Disability

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Lethal Injection

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Jul 05, 2019

Kentucky Trial Court Again Strikes Down State’s Execution Protocol

A Kentucky tri­al court has issued an order declar­ing the Commonwealth’s exe­cu­tion pro­to­col uncon­sti­tu­tion­al. It was the third time in a decade the state courts have ruled in favor of death-row pris­on­ers in their chal­lenges to the pro­to­col. The July 2, 2019 rul­ing by Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip J. Shepherd came in response to a claim brought by the state’s death-row pris­on­ers that Kentucky’s exe­cu­tion reg­u­la­tions could allow Kentucky to uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­ly exe­cute an intel­lec­tu­al­ly dis­abled pris­on­er. The court agreed, declar­ing the pro­to­col uncon­sti­tu­tion­al and invalid because it does not automatically…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Executions Overview

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Methods of Execution

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Lethal Injection

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Aug 02, 2013

LETHAL INJECTION: Shortage of Drugs Leaves Texas Unsure About Future Executions

On August 1, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced its remain­ing sup­ply of pen­to­bar­bi­tal, used for lethal injec­tions, expires in September, and it is unsure where to obtain more. The drug’s man­u­fac­tur­er, Lundbeck, Inc., has barred dis­tri­b­u­tion to states intend­ing to use the drug in executions.

Facts & Research

Recent Legislative Activity

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Aug 18, 2020

Nebraska Legislature Passes, Governor Vetoes Execution Transparency Bill

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has vetoed a bill that would have increased trans­paren­cy in the state’s exe­cu­tion process. LB 238, which passed the state’s uni­cam­er­al leg­is­la­ture on August 13, 2020 by a vote of 27 – 10 with 12 mem­bers present but not vot­ing, would have allowed wit­ness­es to see the exe­cu­tion from the moment the pris­on­er enters the death cham­ber until the pris­on­er is declared dead or the exe­cu­tion is halted.

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Feb 11, 2022

Nevada Execution Personnel Back Out of Participation After Judge Inquires About Credentials

At least three Nevada exe­cu­tion per­son­nel backed out of par­tic­i­pat­ing in Zane Floyds (pic­tured, right) exe­cu­tion after a U.S. dis­trict judge asked about their edu­ca­tion and train­ing. The per­son­nel, includ­ing a doc­tor and two emer­gency med­ical tech­ni­cians, declined to par­tic­i­pate after U.S. District Judge Richard Boulware II asked the state to pro­vide him with their cre­den­tial infor­ma­tion. Another doc­tor was exclud­ed by the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) after the agency learned of addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion,” accord­ing to NDOC’s deputy direc­tor of oper­a­tions William Gittere. NDOC no longer has an attending…

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Jun 21, 2021

Nevada Proposes to Execute Zane Floyd with Untried Drug Combination

The Nevada Department of Corrections (NVDOC) intends to exe­cute death-row pris­on­er Zane Floyd with a three- or four-drug com­bi­na­tion that has nev­er been used before to put a pris­on­er to death. In a pro­posed exe­cu­tion pro­to­col released on June 10, 2021, NVDOC said its exe­cu­tion cock­tail would be drawn from six pos­si­ble drugs, depend­ing upon availability.

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Nov 09, 2021

Nevada Prosecutors Ask Federal Judge to Expedite Decision on Execution Protocol, Citing Looming Expiration Date of Questionably Obtained Drugs

Nevada pros­e­cu­tors have asked a fed­er­al judge to expe­dite a deci­sion on the con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of the state’s exe­cu­tion process, say­ing accel­er­at­ed review is nec­es­sary if the state is to exe­cute Zane Floyd before its sup­ply of a ques­tion­ably obtained lethal-injec­tion drug expires on February 282022.

Policy Issues

Human Rights

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Apr 11, 2023

NEW RESOURCES: Human Rights and the Death Penalty

The Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), with the sup­port of the Foreign Office of the Federal Government of Germany, recent­ly under­took a project exam­in­ing the U.S. death penal­ty through a human rights lens. DPIC has added a series of human rights pages to its web­site, refram­ing three aspects of the death penal­ty – race, con­di­tions of con­fine­ment, and exe­cu­tions – in light of human rights norms and treaties.

Executions

Methods of Execution

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Lethal Injection

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Sep 25, 2020

NPR Investigation of Lethal-Injection Autopsies Finds Executed Prisoners Experience Sensations of Suffocation and Drowning

A new National Public Radio (NPR) analy­sis of more than 200 autop­sies of death-row pris­on­ers exe­cut­ed by lethal injec­tion has found that 84% of those exe­cut­ed showed evi­dence of pul­monary ede­ma, a con­di­tion in which a person’s lungs fill with flu­id that cre­ates the feel­ing of suf­fo­ca­tion or drown­ing that experts have likened to waterboarding.

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Oct 19, 2021

Ohio Supreme Court Rules Against Death-Row Prisoners in Administrative Challenge to Lethal-Injection Process

The Ohio Supreme Court has upheld the state’s exe­cu­tion process against a pro­ce­dur­al chal­lenge by two of the state’s death-row pris­on­ers that sought to inval­i­date Ohio’s lethal-injec­tion pro­to­col. A unan­i­mous Ohio Supreme Court ruled on October 19, 2021 that the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) did not vio­late state law when it adopt­ed a lethal-injec­tion pro­to­col with­out going through the state’s for­mal rule­mak­ing process.

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Oct 16, 2020

Ohio Supreme Court to Review Validity of State’s Execution Protocol

A divid­ed Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeals of two death-row pris­on­ers who are chal­leng­ing the legal­i­ty of the state’s exe­cu­tion pro­to­col. By votes of 4 – 3, the court on October 13, 2020 accept­ed for review appeals by Cleveland Jackson (pic­tured) and James O’Neal assert­ing that Ohio’s exe­cu­tion pro­to­col is invalid because the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) adopt­ed it in vio­la­tion of state reg­u­la­to­ry requirements.

Executions

Executions Overview

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Feb 18, 2022

Oklahoma County Becomes Nation’s Third Most Prolific County Executioner as State Puts Intellectually Impaired Teen Offender to Death

When Oklahoma exe­cut­ed Gilbert Postelle on February 17, 2022, it came with a dubi­ous dis­tinc­tion. The intel­lec­tu­al­ly impaired man who was 18 years old at the time of his offense became the 44th per­son pros­e­cut­ed in Oklahoma County to be put to death since exe­cu­tions resumed in the U.S. in 1977. His death made the coun­ty the nation’s third-most pro­lif­ic coun­ty exe­cu­tion­er over the past half-cen­tu­ry, tied with Tarrant and Bexar coun­ties in Texas. (Click to enlarge graphic.)

Facts & Research

Clemency

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Upcoming Executions

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Botched Executions

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Lethal Injection

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Dec 07, 2021

Oklahoma Executes Bigler Stouffer After Governor Rejects Board Recommendation for Clemency, Federal Courts Deny Stay

Oklahoma exe­cut­ed Bigler Jobe Stouffer II (pic­tured, at his clemen­cy hear­ing) on December 9, 2021, after Governor Kevin Stitt reject­ing a par­dons board rec­om­men­da­tion to com­mute his sen­tence to life with­out parole and the fed­er­al courts denied his appli­ca­tions to stay his exe­cu­tion. Stouffer, 79, was the old­est pris­on­er put to death in Oklahoma. It was the eleventh and final exe­cu­tion of 2021.

Facts & Research

United States Supreme Court

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Executions Overview

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Botched Executions

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Lethal Injection

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Oct 28, 2021

Oklahoma Executes John Grant After Supreme Court Vacates Stay; Execution Proceeds Despite Pending Trial on Constitutionality of State’s Lethal-Injection Process

Within hours of a par­ti­san vote in the United States Supreme Court lift­ing an appeals court stay, Oklahoma exe­cut­ed John Grant on October 28, 2021, end­ing a six-year hia­tus brought on by a series of exe­cu­tion mishaps in 2014 and 2015. Eyewitnesses report­ed that Grant con­vulsed more than two dozen times and vom­it­ed as Oklahoma put him to death with a con­tro­ver­sial three-drug exe­cu­tion cock­tail whose con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty is the sub­ject of a fed­er­al-court tri­al sched­uled to begin in February 2022.

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Aug 13, 2021

Oklahoma Federal Court Rules that Death-Row Prisoners’ Challenge to State’s Lethal Injection Protocol May Proceed to Trial

An Oklahoma fed­er­al judge has ordered a tri­al in a suit filed by the state’s death-row pris­on­ers chal­leng­ing the con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of Oklahoma’s three-drug lethal-injec­tion process. Judge Stephen Friot of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma ruled on August 11, 2021 that the suit, which alleges that Oklahoma’s exe­cu­tion pro­to­col vio­lates the Eighth Amendment ban on cru­el and unusu­al pun­ish­ment, may pro­ceed to tri­al. Judge Friot denied sev­er­al oth­er claims, includ­ing those seek­ing more infor­ma­tion about the drugs to be used and alleg­ing that the exe­cu­tions process…

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Feb 10, 2022

Oklahoma is Paying Execution Doctor $15,000 Plus Training Fees for Each Execution

Oklahoma is pay­ing $15,000 per exe­cu­tion, plus $1,000 for each day of train­ing, to an unnamed doc­tor to par­tic­i­pate in the process of putting state pris­on­ers to death. Under the agree­ment, the doc­tor stood to receive an esti­mat­ed $130,000 over the course of the 19-week-peri­od between October 28, 2021 and March 10, 2022 in which the state had sched­uled the exe­cu­tions of sev­en prisoners.

Facts & Research

United States Supreme Court

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Lethal Injection

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Federal Death Penalty

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Jun 25, 2020

Regulatory Experts Ask Supreme Court to Overturn Ruling Lifting Injunction on Federal Executions

A group of 15 admin­is­tra­tive law experts have filed an ami­cus curi­ae brief in sup­port of death-row pris­on­ers seek­ing U.S. Supreme Court review of a chal­lenge to the fed­er­al government’s pro­posed exe­cu­tion pro­to­col. The brief was filed June 19, 2020 in Roane v. Barr, a case brought by fed­er­al death-row pris­on­ers ask­ing the Court to over­turn an appel­late court’s rul­ing that lift­ed an injunc­tion on fed­er­al exe­cu­tions. According to the ami­cus brief, This case presents a tri­fec­ta of clas­sic admin­is­tra­tive-law prob­lems: The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) (1) mis­in­ter­pret­ed a statute,…

Policy Issues

Mental Illness

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Women

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Federal Death Penalty

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Jan 13, 2021

Supreme Court Vacates Stays of Execution, Paves Way for Late-Night Execution of Lisa Montgomery

After a series of rul­ings by the United States Supreme Court sum­mar­i­ly vacat­ed two stays of exe­cu­tion and denied attempts to rein­state two oth­ers, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment exe­cut­ed death row pris­on­er Lisa Montgomery (pic­tured) on January 13, 2021. Montgomery, the only woman on fed­er­al death row, was the first woman exe­cut­ed by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment in more than 67 years, the first per­son exe­cut­ed in the U.S. in 2021, and the 11th pris­on­er put to death in a six-month fed­er­al exe­cu­tion spree with­out par­al­lel in the 20th or 21st centuries.

Executions

Executions Overview

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Lethal Injection

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Jun 23, 2022

Tennessee Executions Could Be on Hold for Years Following Independent Investigation, Anticipated Court Challenges

Tennessee exe­cu­tions could be on hold for years, as the state con­ducts an inde­pen­dent inves­ti­ga­tion into wide­spread non-com­pli­ance with its exe­cu­tion pro­to­col and lit­i­gates the con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of revi­sions expect­ed to be made to its exe­cu­tion pro­ce­dures. The antic­i­pat­ed delay, first report­ed by the Associated Press June 13, 2022, is a like­ly by-prod­uct of a deci­sion by Governor Bill Lee to can­cel all exe­cu­tions sched­uled in the state for the remain­der of 2022 and an agree­ment entered into by the Tennessee Attorney General’s office in on-going lit­i­ga­tion over the state’s execution…

Executions

Executions Overview

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Botched Executions

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Lethal Injection

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Jan 17, 2023

Tennessee Gov. Says No Death Warrants Until Execution Protocol Problems Fixed

Tennessee will not resume exe­cu­tions until it fix­es sys­temic prob­lems with the admin­is­tra­tion of its exe­cu­tion pro­to­col, Governor Bill Lee has announced. It’s a very impor­tant issue that has to be done cor­rect­ly,” Lee told reporters on January 5, 2023. And we will take the time to fix the pro­to­col and to make cer­tain that we don’t move for­ward until everything’s in place.”

Policy Issues

Mental Illness

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Representation

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Victims' Families

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Upcoming Executions

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Federal Death Penalty

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Jun 16, 2020

With Litigation Pending in U.S. Supreme Court, Federal Government Issues Four Death Warrants

With a peti­tion for review pend­ing before the U.S. Supreme Court on the legal­i­ty and con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of the fed­er­al exe­cu­tion pro­to­col, U.S. Attorney General William Barr on June 15, 2020 set exe­cu­tion dates for four fed­er­al death-row pris­on­ers, includ­ing three who are involved in the pend­ing case. The war­rants sched­uled three exe­cu­tions over a five-day peri­od in July and a fourth exe­cu­tion in late August. No fed­er­al exe­cu­tions have been car­ried out since 2003, and the five exe­cu­tion dates that had been set for December 2019 and January 2020 were…