Entries tagged with “Secrecy

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

Botched Executions

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Lethal Injection

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Jul 29, 2022

Alabama Execution of Joe Nathan James Marred by Failures to Set IV Line, Embarrassing Dress-Code Controversy, and Disrespect of Victim’s Family

Alabama put Joe Nathan James, Jr. to death on July 28, 2022 against the wish­es of his victim’s fam­i­ly in an exe­cu­tion marred by an hours-long fail­ure to set a lethal-injec­tion intra­venous line and an embar­rass­ing dress-code con­tro­ver­sy in which a cor­rec­tions offi­cial told a female reporter she would not be able to wit­ness the exe­cu­tion because her skirt was too short and she was wear­ing open-toed shoes and sub­ject­ed anoth­er female reporter to a cloth­ing inspection.

Policy Issues

Secrecy

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Methods of Execution

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Lethal Injection

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Aug 11, 2021

Alabama, Mississippi Take Preparatory Steps to Resume Executions

Alabama and Mississippi have under­tak­en prepara­to­ry steps towards resum­ing exe­cu­tions in the face of con­tin­u­ing legal chal­lenges to their meth­ods of execution.

Executions

Botched Executions

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Lethal Injection

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Oct 19, 2022

Alan Miller Asks Federal Court to Bar Alabama from Second Attempt to Execute Him By Lethal Injection

Alan Eugene Miller has asked fed­er­al courts to bar Alabama from set­ting a sec­ond exe­cu­tion date days after the Alabama Attorney General’s office filed a motion in the state’s Supreme Court to expe­dite a new exe­cu­tion war­rant. The state attempt­ed to exe­cute Miller on September 22, 2022, but called off the exe­cu­tion after fail­ing to estab­lish an intra­venous (IV) line.

Policy Issues

Secrecy

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Jun 02, 2022

Arizona Violated Court Order to Allow Media to Witness Execution, Lawyer for Newspapers Says

Arizona vio­lat­ed state law, state cor­rec­tions poli­cies, and a court order by deny­ing a reporter from the state’s largest dai­ly cir­cu­la­tion news­pa­per access to view the May 11 exe­cu­tion of Clarence Dixon and by block­ing wit­ness­es’ views of a por­tion of the exe­cu­tion process, a lawyer for the news­pa­per has charged.

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Jun 04, 2020

Arkansas Federal Court Rejects Death-Row Prisoners’ Challenge to State’s Use of Midazolam in Executions

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker on June 1, 2020 denied a chal­lenge brought by Arkansas death-row pris­on­ers to the use of the con­tro­ver­sial drug mida­zo­lam in car­ry­ing out exe­cu­tions. The rul­ing fol­lowed a two-week hear­ing on the issue held in May 2019. Lawyers for the pris­on­ers had argued that mida­zo­lam does not ade­quate­ly anes­thetize a pris­on­er dur­ing an exe­cu­tion before the sec­ond and third drugs, a par­a­lyt­ic drug and a drug that stops the heart, are admin­is­tered. An attor­ney for the pris­on­ers said that the third drug, potas­si­um chlo­ride, injected…

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Nov 20, 2018

Behind the Curtain: Secrecy and the Death Penalty in the United States

During the past sev­en years, states have begun con­duct­ing exe­cu­tions with drugs and drug com­bi­na­tions that have nev­er been tried before. They have done so behind an expand­ing veil of secre­cy laws that shield the exe­cu­tion process from pub­lic scrutiny.

Policy Issues

Intellectual Disability

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Representation

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Lethal Injection

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Mar 01, 2021

Capital Case Roundup — Death Penalty Court Decisions the Week of February 222021

NEWS (2/​25/​21) — Alabama: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has denied habeas relief for Alabama death-row pris­on­er Charles Clark, who the tri­al court had sen­tenced to death based upon a non-unan­i­mous jury sen­tenc­ing vote. Clark had argued that the tri­al court improp­er­ly ordered that he be shack­led dur­ing the tri­al, with­out an ade­quate jus­ti­fi­ca­tion and with­out plac­ing the rea­sons for shack­ling him on the record. His tri­al coun­sel had waived the claim by fail­ing to object and Clark argued that this fail­ure con­sti­tut­ed inef­fec­tive assis­tance of…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Intellectual Disability

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Sentencing Alternatives

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Lethal Injection

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Jun 13, 2020

Capital Case Roundup — Death Penalty Court Decisions the Week of June 82020

NEWS (6/​11/​20) — Florida: The Florida Supreme Court applied new cas­es that retroac­tive­ly changed the law regard­ing claims of intel­lec­tu­al dis­abil­i­ty and the uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of death sen­tences imposed after non-unan­i­mous jury votes for death to uphold the death sen­tences imposed on Alphonso Cave and Gary Lawrence.

Executions

May 24, 2021

Citing Inexperience’ and Miscommunication,’ Texas Conducts Execution Without Media Witnesses

In a fail­ure of trans­paren­cy one leg­isla­tive leader described as unfath­omable,” the State of Texas put Quintin Jones (pic­tured) to death on May 19, 2021 with­out any media wit­ness­es present to observe the exe­cu­tion. It was the first time in the 571 exe­cu­tions con­duct­ed by Texas since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld its death penal­ty statute in 1976 that no media wit­ness­es were present.

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.

Policy Issues

Human Rights

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International

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Nov 15, 2021

Death-Row Prisoners in Japan Sue Over Same-Day Notice of Executions

Two Japanese death-row pris­on­ers have filed a law­suit alleg­ing that the country’s long-crit­i­cized prac­tice of noti­fy­ing pris­on­ers of their exe­cu­tion the same day they are to be put to death is inhu­mane” and vio­lates the nation’s constitution.

Policy Issues

Secrecy

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Lethal Injection

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Mar 04, 2021

Evenly Split Indiana Supreme Court Affirms Ruling Requiring Release of Execution-Drug Records

An even­ly divid­ed Indiana Supreme Court has affirmed a tri­al court rul­ing that requires the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) to release records relat­ed to the lethal injec­tion drugs Indiana has used in car­ry­ing out exe­cu­tions, includ­ing the iden­ti­ties of the drug sup­pli­ers. The doc­u­ments were the sub­ject of a pub­lic records suit filed by Washington, D.C. lawyer A. Katherine Toomey under the Indiana Access to Public Records Act (APRA).

Facts & Research

Recent Legislative Activity

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Lethal Injection

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Mar 11, 2022

Execution Secrecy Bill Passes in Florida, Fails in Idaho

Bills to increase secre­cy in the con­duct of exe­cu­tions have met dif­fer­ent fates in Florida and Idaho. Florida leg­is­la­tors on March 7, 2022 gave final leg­isla­tive approval to a bill that would con­ceal the iden­ti­ty of exe­cu­tion par­tic­i­pants, includ­ing sup­pli­ers of exe­cu­tion drugs. Meanwhile, a sim­i­lar mea­sure in Idaho passed the House of Representatives but failed on a tie vote in a Senate com­mit­tee on March 9.

Executions

Lethal Injection

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May 17, 2022

Fallout From Aborted Tennessee Execution: Prosecutors Misrepresented Facts in Federal Lawsuit, 2 Members of Execution Team Knew Drugs Had Not Been Tested

The fall­out fol­low­ing Tennessees abort­ed attempt to exe­cute Oscar Smith on April 21, 2022 con­tin­ues to grow, as state pros­e­cu­tors dis­closed that their plead­ings had mis­rep­re­sent­ed facts in a fed­er­al lethal injec­tion law­suit and pub­lic records revealed that at least two mem­bers of the exe­cu­tion team knew the day before Smith was to be exe­cut­ed that the drugs pur­chased to put Smith to death had not been prop­er­ly tested.

Executions

Upcoming Executions

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Lethal Injection

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Oct 18, 2021

Federal Appeals Court Reinstates Oklahoma Death-Row Prisoners to Lawsuit in Decision That May Require State to Vacate Execution Dates

In a deci­sion with poten­tial to vacate a num­ber of Oklahoma exe­cu­tion dates, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has held that a low­er fed­er­al court abused its dis­cre­tion in dis­miss­ing six death-row pris­on­ers from a law­suit chal­leng­ing the state’s exe­cu­tion protocol.

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Federal Death Penalty

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Feb 26, 2021

Federal Bureau of Prisons Sanitized Execution Reports, Omitting Disturbing Details Observed by Media Witnesses

Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) offi­cials repeat­ed­ly mis­rep­re­sent­ed accounts of the exe­cu­tions they car­ried out in 2020 and 2021, pro­vid­ing san­i­tized descrip­tions of the exe­cu­tions that omit­ted all ref­er­ences to dra­mat­ic body move­ments and signs of dis­tress observed by media wit­ness­es, accord­ing to an Associated Press report. The sworn accounts by exe­cu­tion­ers, which fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors pro­vid­ed to an expert wit­ness and to a fed­er­al dis­trict court judge to defeat the pris­on­ers’ court claims that the exe­cu­tion process was excru­ci­at­ing­ly painful and uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­ly cru­el, devi­at­ed sig­nif­i­cant­ly from the obser­va­tions of multiple…

Executions

Botched Executions

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Lethal Injection

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Sep 26, 2022

Federal Court Orders Alabama to Preserve Evidence of Botched Attempted Execution of Alan Miller

A fed­er­al dis­trict court has ordered Alabama state offi­cials to pre­serve evi­dence relat­ed to the state’s failed attempt to exe­cute death-row pris­on­er Alan Miller on September 22, 2022. The botched exe­cu­tion attempt, Alabama’s third since 2018, came after a divid­ed U.S. Supreme Court issued an after-hours exe­cu­tion-night order set­ting aside with­out opin­ion an injunc­tion that had barred the state from exe­cut­ing Miller by any method oth­er than nitro­gen hypox­ia.” Prison offi­cials then unsuc­cess­ful­ly attempt­ed as many as 18 times to estab­lish an intra­venous exe­cu­tion line before call­ing off the execution…

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Federal Death Penalty

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Dec 21, 2021

House Committee Asks Justice Department Its Plans on Resuming Executions, Purchasing Execution Drugs

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform has sent a let­ter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland seek­ing infor­ma­tion on the Department of Justice’s death penal­ty prac­tices and poli­cies, includ­ing whether DOJ plans to resume fed­er­al exe­cu­tions and to obtain new sup­plies of the drug pen­to­bar­bi­tal to car­ry out addi­tion­al executions.

Facts & Research

Recent Legislative Activity

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Lethal Injection

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Mar 30, 2022

Idaho Expands Execution Secrecy After Senate Committee Reconsiders Failed Vote

Idaho Governor Brad Little on March 25, 2022, signed into law an exe­cu­tion secre­cy bill that con­ceals from the pub­lic and the courts infor­ma­tion on the pro­duc­ers and sup­pli­ers of drugs used in exe­cu­tions in the state.

Policy Issues

Secrecy

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Executions Overview

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Lethal Injection

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Oct 21, 2019

In Response to Court Order, Alabama Releases Heavily Redacted Execution Protocol

Under court order, Alabama has released for the first time a copy of the state’s pre­vi­ous­ly con­fi­den­tial exe­cu­tion pro­to­col. The 17-page doc­u­ment — filed on October 16, 2019 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama fed­er­al court —pur­ports to detail the respon­si­bil­i­ties and pro­ce­dures for the recep­tion of a con­demned inmate, for con­fine­ment, and for exe­cu­tion and day of exe­cu­tion prepa­ra­tion” as of April 2019.

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Jan 21, 2022

Investigative Report: Idaho Records Reveal State’s Efforts to Conceal Ghost Purchase of Execution Drugs and Out-of-State Cash Payment to Pharmacy With Dubious Regulatory History

Idaho prison offi­cials engaged in cloak and dag­ger prac­tices, includ­ing twice send­ing state employ­ees across state lines to make cash pur­chas­es of con­trolled sub­stances intend­ed for exe­cu­tions, active­ly con­ceal­ing the intend­ed use of the drugs, manip­u­lat­ing state records to cov­er up their activ­i­ties, and act­ing in bad faith to stonewall pub­lic records requests for exe­cu­tion-relat­ed infor­ma­tion, a joint inves­tiga­tive report by the Idaho Statesman and the Idaho Capital Sun has revealed.

Policy Issues

Secrecy

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Lethal Injection

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Sep 24, 2019

Lawsuits in Arizona and Virginia Highlight Media Efforts to Witness Executions in Their Entirety

Federal law­suits filed by coali­tions of media orga­ni­za­tions in two states high­light recent media efforts to vin­di­cate the public’s right to wit­ness exe­cu­tions in their entire­ty. On September 17, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in a case brought by a coali­tion of Arizona media orga­ni­za­tions that the First Amendment right to wit­ness an exe­cu­tion encom­pass­es the right to hear the exe­cu­tion in its entire­ty. On the heels of that rul­ing, four Virginia media orga­ni­za­tions filed suit in fed­er­al dis­trict court in Richmond on September…

Facts & Research

Recent Legislative Activity

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Mar 08, 2020

Legislative Roundup — Recent Legislative Activity as of March 7

Washington — A bill that would for­mal­ly remove Washington’s judi­cial­ly abol­ished death penal­ty from the state’s statute books has failed. SB 5339, which passed the state sen­ate on January 31 and was approved by the House Committee on Public Safety on February 27, did not come up for a vote on the floor of the state House of Representatives by the March 7 dead­line for con­sid­er­a­tion dur­ing the 2020 leg­isla­tive ses­sion. The fail­ure has no effect on the judi­cial abo­li­tion of the state’s death penal­ty in 2018. It was the…

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.

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Mar 09, 2020

Media and Legal Organizations Urge Idaho Supreme Court to Require Execution Transparency

Saying that states have no com­pelling need” to keep exe­cu­tion infor­ma­tion secret, the American Bar Association (ABA) has asked the Idaho Supreme Court to require the state to dis­close numer­ous exe­cu­tion-relat­ed doc­u­ments under Idaho’s free­dom of infor­ma­tion law. On February 28, 2020, the ABA and a coali­tion of Idaho media orga­ni­za­tions led by the Idaho Press Club filed ami­cus curi­ae briefs in Cover v. Idaho Board of Correction in sup­port of an Idaho law professor’s law­suit seek­ing release of pub­lic records on Idaho’s exe­cu­tion procedures.

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Sep 25, 2017

Mixed Rulings in Arkansas and Arizona Highlight Issue of Lethal-Injection Secrecy

Recent court rul­ings in Arkansas and Arizona reach­ing oppo­site out­comes high­light the con­tin­u­ing con­tro­ver­sy over state prac­tices keep­ing infor­ma­tion relat­ing to state acqui­si­tion of drugs for use in exe­cut­ing pris­on­ers secret from the public.

Policy Issues

Secrecy

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Recent Legislative Activity

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Lethal Injection

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Feb 20, 2020

Nebraska Bill to Make Executions More Transparent Advances in Legislature

Nebraskas uni­cam­er­al leg­is­la­ture vot­ed on February 13, 2020 to advance a bill that would increase trans­paren­cy in the state’s exe­cu­tion process. LB 238, which would allow 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, passed an ini­tial con­sid­er­a­tion by a 33 – 7 vote. It must pass a sec­ond vote in order to be sub­mit­ted to the governor.

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.

Policy Issues

Secrecy

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Lethal Injection

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May 20, 2020

Nebraska Supreme Court Orders Release of Lethal-Injection Drug Records

In a major vic­to­ry for media out­lets and pris­on­er advo­cates, the Nebraska Supreme Court has ordered the state’s Department of Correctional Services (DCS) to release pub­lic records relat­ed to the pro­cure­ment of drugs used in the 2018 exe­cu­tion of Carey Dean Moore (pic­tured). The court reject­ed the state’s argu­ment that drug sup­pli­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers are mem­bers of the exe­cu­tion team whose iden­ti­ties may be shield­ed from dis­clo­sure but per­mit­ted DCS to redact infor­ma­tion that could iden­ti­fy cor­rec­tions per­son­nel who car­ried out the execution.

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…

Policy Issues

Secrecy

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Lethal Injection

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Jul 30, 2021

Nevada Press Association Sues State for Full Access to Witness Executions

The Nevada Press Association has filed a fed­er­al law­suit against Nevada state offi­cials and the Nevada Department of Corrections chal­leng­ing lim­i­ta­tions the state’s exe­cu­tion pro­to­col places on the media’s abil­i­ty to wit­ness and report on executions.

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Race

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Executions Overview

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Aug 24, 2022

New DPIC Podcast: Former Governor Brad Henry and Former U.S. Magistrate Judge Andy Lester, co-Chairs of the Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission, Call for Halt to Executions

In the August 2022 Discussions With DPIC pod­cast, for­mer Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry and for­mer U.S. Magistrate Judge Andy Lester (pic­tured), two of the co-chairs of the bipar­ti­san Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission, call on state offi­cials not to rush for­ward with the state’s planned exe­cu­tion of 25 pris­on­ers. Speaking with DPIC exec­u­tive direc­tor Robert Dunham, Governor Henry, a Democrat, and Judge Lester, a Republican, dis­cuss the commission’s find­ings of a bro­ken sys­tem that risks exe­cut­ing the inno­cent and that, they say, should not be exe­cut­ing any­one, at least until…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Lethal Injection

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Aug 25, 2021

NEW SCHOLARSHIP: Death is Indeed Different in U.S. Administrative Law — Condemned Prisoners Receive FEWER Procedural Protections

In the 1970s, the United States Supreme Court famous­ly declared that death is dif­fer­ent” from all oth­er pun­ish­ments and, as such, required the pro­vi­sion of height­ened pro­ce­dur­al safe­guards to ensure that its appli­ca­tion was not cru­el or unusu­al. But in a new arti­cle, Death Penalty Exceptionalism and Administrative Law, University of Richmond law pro­fes­sor and cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment schol­ar Corinna B. Lain (pic­tured) argues that in the con­text of admin­is­tra­tive law, the doc­trine has been turn[ed] … on its head.”

Facts & Research

New Voices

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Feb 08, 2023

NEW VOICES: Tennessee Business Leader Underscores Problems with the Death Penalty

Speaking as a busi­ness leader, a proud, life­time Tennessean and a human being, it’s time for the state to abol­ish cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment,” wrote Mac Bartine, CEO of Knoxville-based tech com­pa­ny Smartria, in an op-ed for Knox News. Bartine described the find­ings of the 2022 inde­pen­dent inves­ti­ga­tion into Tennessee’s exe­cu­tion prac­tices, which found that the state repeat­ed­ly failed to adhere to its own pro­to­col. The report proved what we have known for years – that the death penal­ty has no place in our soci­ety,” he wrote.

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Aug 01, 2019

Ohio Governor Says State Cannot Obtain Lethal-Injection Drugs, Reschedules Upcoming Execution

Ohio can­not obtain drugs to car­ry out exe­cu­tions with­out putting pub­lic health at risk, Governor Mike DeWine (pic­tured) announced on July 31, 2019. DeWine told reporters that phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers are unwill­ing to sell the state drugs for exe­cu­tions and have threat­ened to stop sell­ing med­i­cines to any state agency if they sus­pect the drugs might be divert­ed from ther­a­peu­tic use to use in exe­cu­tions. A sales embar­go could mean that the state would not be able to obtain med­i­cines for treat­ment of patients at vet­er­ans’ homes, state and com­mu­ni­ty drug…

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.

Executions

Lethal Injection

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State by State

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Mar 02, 2020

Oklahoma Prisoners Challenge New Execution Protocol in Federal Court

Less than two weeks after Oklahoma offi­cials announced that the state would return to the same con­tro­ver­sial three-drug exe­cu­tion pro­to­col impli­cat­ed in a series of botched exe­cu­tions in 2014 and 2015, the state’s death-row pris­on­ers have asked a fed­er­al court to reac­ti­vate their law­suit chal­leng­ing the state’s exe­cu­tion process. The February 27, 2020 fil­ing in the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma called the new pro­to­col incom­plete” and said it failed to com­ply with the terms of an agree­ment that had put exe­cu­tions in the state…

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Aug 04, 2016

Pharmaceutical Companies Reiterate Opposition to Participating in Executions as States Scramble for Execution Drugs

Distribution restric­tions put in place by major phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies in the United States against mis­use of their med­i­cines and export reg­u­la­tions insti­tut­ed by the European Union have made it increas­ing­ly dif­fi­cult for states to obtain sup­plies of drugs for use in exe­cu­tions. However, despite these restric­tions, some states have obtained phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal prod­ucts man­u­fac­tured by these com­pa­nies for use in lethal injections.

Policy Issues

Secrecy

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Lethal Injection

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Federal Death Penalty

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Jan 08, 2021

ProPublica Investigation Reveals Irregularities in Federal Executions

The fed­er­al government’s his­tor­i­cal­ly aber­rant exe­cu­tion spree has been fraught with irreg­u­lar­i­ties and has tram­pled over an array of bar­ri­ers, both legal and prac­ti­cal,” accord­ing to an inves­tiga­tive report by the non-prof­it news orga­ni­za­tion, ProPublica.

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Jan 04, 2023

Report: Tennessee Repeatedly Violated Execution Protocol Since 2018

An inde­pen­dent inves­ti­ga­tion into Tennessees exe­cu­tion prac­tices has found that the state repeat­ed­ly failed to fol­low its own pro­to­cols in per­form­ing sev­en exe­cu­tions and prepar­ing for an eighth between 2018 and 2022. Governor Bill Lee (pic­tured) com­mis­sioned the inves­ti­ga­tion in May 2022, short­ly after he called off the exe­cu­tion of Oscar Smith “[d]ue to an over­sight in prepa­ra­tion for lethal injec­tion.” The report, which was pub­licly released on December 28, 2022, found that the same over­sight that occurred in the lead­up to Smith’s exe­cu­tion – fail­ure to test the lethal-injection…

Policy Issues

Secrecy

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Botched Executions

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May 03, 2023

RESOURCES: Newspaper Series Explores Arizona’s Recent Death Penalty History

In a detailed five-part series titled Poorly exe­cut­ed: How Arizona has failed at car­ry­ing out the death penal­ty,” the Arizona Mirror explores the last 16 years of Arizona’s use of cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment. The series focus­es on con­tro­ver­sies sur­round­ing the exe­cu­tions them­selves, includ­ing changes to the drug pro­to­col, the use of inex­pe­ri­enced or unqual­i­fied per­son­nel, and the state secre­cy sur­round­ing the process. It also looks into oth­er major issues in cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment, such as inno­cence, costs, and racial bias.

Policy Issues

Human Rights

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International

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Lethal Injection

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Nov 28, 2017

Senior U.N. Official Assails Death-Penalty Secrecy As Obstruction of Human Rights

A senior United Nations human rights offi­cial has crit­i­cized the secre­cy with which coun­tries car­ry out the death penal­ty and called for greater trans­paren­cy by coun­tries that still employ cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment. There is far too much secre­cy,” United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour (pic­tured) said in an inter­view released November 21 by the U.N. News Centre, and it’s quite indica­tive the fact that although many coun­tries are giv­ing up the prac­tice, those that retain it nev­er­the­less feel that they have some­thing to hide.”

Policy Issues

Secrecy

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Recent Legislative Activity

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Lethal Injection

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Apr 28, 2023

South Carolina Advances Legislation to Keep Execution Details Secret

Bills to hide the iden­ti­ties of lethal-injec­tion drug sup­pli­ers and exe­cu­tion team mem­bers from the pub­lic have passed both cham­bers of the South Carolina leg­is­la­ture. The bills face a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion process before one can move to the governor’s desk for sig­na­ture. Proponents of the law say it is nec­es­sary because reveal­ing such infor­ma­tion might make exe­cu­tions dif­fi­cult or impos­si­ble. South Carolina has not car­ried out an exe­cu­tion in 12 years. Opponents say the pub­lic has the right to know about gov­ern­ment actions.

Executions

Methods of Execution

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Dec 08, 2021

South Carolina Execution Practices are Shrouded in Secrecy

As South Carolina pre­pares pro­ce­dures for car­ry­ing out exe­cu­tions via fir­ing squad, an inves­ti­ga­tion by Columbia’s dai­ly news­pa­per, The State, reports that impor­tant infor­ma­tion about the exe­cu­tion process and the sources of mate­ri­als to be used in exe­cu­tions is being hid­den from the public.

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Nov 22, 2017

South Carolina Seeks Drug-Secrecy Law to Carry Out Execution that was Never Going to Happen

Claiming that a lack of lethal-injec­tion drugs was pre­vent­ing the state from exe­cut­ing Bobby Wayne Stone (pic­tured, right) on December 1, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster (pic­tured, left) urged state leg­is­la­tors to act quick­ly to enact an exe­cu­tion-drug secre­cy law. But as McMaster and Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling held a press con­fer­ence out­side barbed-wire fences at the Broad River Capital Punishment Facility in Columbia, South Carolina on November 20, they knew, crit­ics say, that there was no lethal-drug emer­gency and that the death war­rant against Stone was never…

Facts & Research

United States Supreme Court

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Lethal Injection

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Jun 25, 2019

Supreme Court Orders Alabama to Unseal Execution Documents

The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered the unseal­ing of court doc­u­ments relat­ed to Alabamas May 30, 2019 exe­cu­tion of Christopher Price. On June 24, the Court grant­ed a motion filed by National Public Radio (NPR) and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP), to unseal all Supreme Court plead­ings in the case of Price v. Dunn, in which — based on redact­ed fil­ings — the Court per­mit­ted Price’s exe­cu­tion to pro­ceed. The Court did not issue an opin­ion in con­nec­tion with the order.

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…

Policy Issues

Secrecy

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Upcoming Executions

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May 03, 2022

Tennessee Governor Halts Executions Scheduled for 2022 to Conduct Review of Execution Protocol Oversight’

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee (pic­tured) has paused all exe­cu­tions sched­uled for 2022 and called for an inde­pen­dent review” of the state’s exe­cu­tion pro­to­col to address a tech­ni­cal over­sight” that led him to halt Oscar Franklin Smiths exe­cu­tion less than a half-hour before it was sched­uled to be car­ried out on April 212022.

Executions

Upcoming Executions

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Lethal Injection

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Jan 05, 2023

Texas Appeals Court Denies Death-Row Prisoners Stays of Execution, Judicial Review of State’s Use of Expired Drugs in Upcoming Executions

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (TCCA) has grant­ed an appli­ca­tion by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to block a state tri­al court from review­ing a civ­il law­suit filed by three death-row pris­on­ers who chal­lenged the state’s intent to exe­cute them using lethal-injec­tion drugs they claimed were unlaw­ful­ly obtained and long-expired.”

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Mar 11, 2019

Two Legislatures, Two Divergent Approaches to Execution Transparency

After con­tro­ver­sial exe­cu­tions raised ques­tions of gov­ern­ment com­pe­tence or mis­con­duct, leg­is­la­tures in two states have respond­ed with bills tak­ing sharply dif­fer­ent approach­es to the ques­tions of gov­ern­ment account­abil­i­ty and pub­lic oversight.

State & Federal Info

Federal Death Penalty

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Feb 01, 2021

Under Court Order Requiring Protective Measures, Federal Bureau of Prisons Takes No Action After Media Witnesses to Executions Contract COVID-19

Despite being under fed­er­al court order to under­take pro­tec­tive mea­sures against the spread of COVID-19, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) took no action after being alert­ed that two reporters who had been media wit­ness­es to the fed­er­al exe­cu­tions at the Federal Correctional Complex at Terre Haute, Indiana in January 2021 had con­tract­ed COVID-19.

Facts & Research

Recent Legislative Activity

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Lethal Injection

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Apr 19, 2019

Veil of Execution Secrecy Expands in Several Southern Death-Penalty States

Three south­ern states have tak­en action to lim­it the public’s access to infor­ma­tion relat­ing to exe­cu­tions by increas­ing secre­cy sur­round­ing lethal-injec­tion drug sup­pli­ers. On April 12, 2019, the Texas Supreme Court reversed an ear­li­er deci­sion that would have dis­closed the source of lethal-injec­tion drugs used to car­ry out exe­cu­tions in Texas in 2014, assert­ing that dis­clo­sure would cre­ate a sub­stan­tial threat of phys­i­cal harm to the source’s employ­ees and oth­ers.” On April 9, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed into law one of the most expan­sive and puni­tive exe­cu­tion secre­cy laws…

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Mar 20, 2017

Virginia Increases Execution Secrecy After Difficulty Setting IV in Last Execution

After prison per­son­nel took more than a half hour to set the IV line dur­ing Virginias January 18 exe­cu­tion of Ricky Gray, the Commonwealth’s Department of Corrections has changed its exe­cu­tion pro­ce­dures to con­duct more of the exe­cu­tion prepa­ra­tions out of view of witnesses.

Executions

Lethal Injection

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May 30, 2018

With Drugs Expiring and Lawsuits Pending, Nebraska Prosecutors Seek to Expedite Execution

Facing an August 2018 expi­ra­tion date for two of the drugs in Nebraskas exper­i­men­tal exe­cu­tion pro­to­col, state Attorney General Douglas Peterson (pic­tured) has asked the Nebraska Supreme Court to expe­dite con­sid­er­a­tion of the pros­e­cu­tor’s request to set a July exe­cu­tion date for con­demned pris­on­er Carey Dean Moore. The attor­ney gen­er­al has peti­tioned the court to sched­ule Moore’s exe­cu­tion for July 10 or alter­na­tive­ly for a date in mid-July,” despite the pen­den­cy of sev­er­al law­suits, which will not be resolved before August, that chal­lenge var­i­ous aspects of the state’s author­i­ty and…