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Saudi Arabia Executes 81 People in a Single Day

Saudi Arabia has executed 81 people in a single day (free link), the most in its history.

Most of those executed on Saturday were Saudis, according to the interior ministry. More than half were from the minority Shiite Muslim population, which has a history of militancy and protest against discrimination. Seven were Yemeni nationals and one was Syrian.

The Saudi Government did not specify the method of execution. Gulf News reports 37 of the men were Saudis who had been found guilty of attempting to assassinate security officers.

According to the Saudi Press Agency: [More...]

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DOJ Declares Temporary Moratorium on Federal Executions

Attorney General Merrick Garland Thursday issued a moratorium on scheduling of federal executions, pending a study by the Department of Justice on fairness. In a memo to federal prosecutors he wrote:

Serious concerns have been raised about the continued use of the death penalty across the country, including arbitrariness in its application, disparate impact on people of color, and the troubling number of exonerations in capital and other serious cases," he added. "Those weighty concerns deserve careful study and evaluation by lawmakers."

...The Department of Justice must ensure that everyone in the federal criminal justice system is not only afforded the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States, but is also treated fairly and humanely. That obligation has special force in capital cases," Garland said in the memo.

Shorter version: Smackdown to Donald Trump who had his AG William Barr resume executions after a 20 year hiatus. Under Donald Trump, 13 inmates were killed just in his last year of office.


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Supreme Court Lets Feds Resume Executions

The Supreme Court today let stand a ruling on the death penalty, and as a result, executions may now resume (as Attorney General William Barr has promised they would.) The case is Bourgeois v. Barr, No. 19- 1348.

Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, of the Federal District Court in Washington, blocked the executions in November, saying the protocol the government planned to use did not comply with the Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994, which requires executions to be carried out “in the manner prescribed by the law of the state in which the sentence is imposed.”

The central legal question in the case is whether the word “manner” in the 1994 law refers to the methods of execution authorized by the relevant states (like hanging, firing squad or lethal injection) or the protocols the states require (like the particular chemicals used in lethal injections, whether a doctor must be present or how a catheter is to be inserted).

The Court's unsigned order today states: [More...]

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Trump Administration to Resume Executions of Federal Inmates

These are the last three federal executions in the United States. Today, Attorney General William Barr announced that after 16 years without a federal government-sanctioned murder, the Government will resume executing inmates sentenced to death in a federal court.

Presently, there are 62 such inmates in the U.S. AG Barr also announced today the first five on deck to be killed. [More...]

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Nebraska Kills Inmate With Fetanyl Drug Cocktail

Carey Dean Moore was executed this morning with a four drug concoction that included fetanyl. Nebrasks wins the title of being the first state in the country to intentionally kill someone using Fetanyl. Nevada intended to be first until stopped by a court last month.

According to the Nebraska Dept of Corrections, it took 23 minutes for Moore to die after receiving the first drug.

The first of four substances was administered at 10:24 a.m. The Lancaster County coroner pronounced Moore’s time of death at 10:47 a.m.

According to witnesses:

One media witness, Brent Martin of the Nebraska Radio Network, said that Tuesday's execution in the Nebraska State Penitentiary took longer than the 13 executions he witnessed in Missouri. In those executions, it took about five minutes to complete the lethal injection process.

About 15 minutes into the execution, ight after administering the last injection, officials closed the curtains for about 8 minutes, so the process was not as transparent as it should have been. When officials re-opened the curtains, Moore was already dead. Witnesses said his face was "darker purple, and mottled."

The four drugs used were: Diazepam was first, and then the fentanyl, then cisatracurium and then the heart-stopper, potassium chloride. [More...]

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Sessions Issues Memo on Charging Death in Drug Cases

Jefferson Sessions has issued a memo to U.S. Attorneys on when to charge the death penalty in drug cases. He actually is undercutting Trump's argument for more death-eligible drug crimes because it shows how many are already on the books (thanks in large part to Joe Biden, who sheperded the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act through the Senate, that among other horrible things, expanded death-penalty eligible crimes.)

Biden’s bill put over 100,000 new cops on the street and spent $9.7 billion on the construction of new prisons. The wide-ranging bill implemented a host of liberal policies, including an assault weapon ban and the Violence Against Women Act. But it also expanded the number of crimes that qualify as death penalty cases, encouraged states to keep inmates locked in jail*, criminalized gang membership, eliminated Pell Grants for inmates, and put in place mandatory drug testing for people on supervised release. States had to implement policies that greatly reduced opportunities for parole in order to qualify for the new prison funding.

...During the 1980s he was a staunch advocate for ramping up the war on drugs. Biden devised the national “drug czar” position and worked alongside Republicans during the Ronald Reagan years to craft oppressive anti-drug laws, including co-sponsoring the law that instituted far longer prison terms for possession of crack cocaine than of powder cocaine. In The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander called Biden “one of the Senate’s most strident drug warriors.”


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Execution Inmate Poked for 30 Minutes, No Usable Veins

Ohio began the process of executing Alva Campbell, a 69-year-old inmate with medical problems yesterday morning. The executioners jabbed him with needles for 30 minutes, in his arm and below his knee, trying to find a usable vein to inject him with the lethal drugs. They couldn't find one. At 9:40 a.m, the reporters were told to leave the room, and the execution was halted.

Gov. John Kasich has rescheduled the state-ordered killing for June, 2019. Why that date? Unknown. [More...]

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Supreme Court Rejcts Arkansas Request to Lift Stay on Execution

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the State of Arkansas to lift the stay of execution on Don Davis, an inmate scheduled to be executed Monday night. (It conceded the stay as to a second defendant, Bruce Ward.)

Arkansas scheduled 8 executions for 11 days in April because it's running short on Midazolam, one of the execution drugs.

Arkansas has not executed anyone in 12 years, but Gov. Asa Hutchinson is chomping at the bit:

In a statement, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he's disappointed after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to lift a stay. The Republican governor says he was heartened by other court rulings Monday that could pave the way for Arkansas to execute several more inmates before the end of April.

The Arkansas Gazette has more here.

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Arkansas To Kill 8 Inmates Next Month, Gov. Pardons Pig

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has set 8 executions for a ten day period in April, now that the state's supreme court rejected lawsuits over the controversial drugs used.

The upcoming execution schedule is unprecedented, notes Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. "No state has ever conducted eight executions over a 10 day period," he told CNN.

The Associated Press speculates that they were scheduled for such a short window because the state's supply of one of the lethal injection drugs, Midazolam, expires at the end of April. Arkansas has already run out of potassium chloride, which causes cardiac arrest upon injection, and has yet to acquire a new supply. Hutchinson has expressed confidence that a new supplier for the substance will be found in time.

While Hutchinson has no moral qualms about killing his fellow human beings, he did have qualms about a pig named Roxy P. Hamilton, and in January, he granted the pig a pardon.

More on the executions here.

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Amnesty Int'l: "Alarming Rise" in Global Executions

Amnesty International has released a report on global executions for 2015. More people were executed than in any year in the past 25 years.

89 % were killed by three countries, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. (China's exact numbers are unknown, but they are known to be very high.)

The U.S. ranks 5th in the number of people executed in 2015.

The top five executioners in the world in 2015 were China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the USA – in that order.


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Oral Arguments Over Lethal Injection Drugs

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in the case involving lethal injection drugs.

Conservative justices accused opponents of capital punishment of disingenuous delaying tactics regarding the drugs used in executions. Liberal justices suggested state officials were shading the facts to rush condemned men to the execution chamber.

The case involves the drug midazolam, which was used in the botched Oklahoma execution of Clayton Lockett. (More here.) Three death row inmates brought the case. One, Charles Warner, was since put to death using midazolam. His last words: [More...]

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Utah Reinstates Death by Firing Squad

Utah Governor Gary Herbert has signed a bill into law allowing executions to proceed by firing squad when lethal injection drugs aren't available. From the Governor's website:

HB11, Death Penalty Procedure Amendments

This bill establishes the firing squad as a secondary method for executions, in the event the drugs necessary for lethal injection cannot be obtained. Lethal injection remains the primary method for carrying out executions in Utah.

I'd call Utah the new Indonesia except it isn't killing non-violent drug offenders. Still, it's sickening to think that any state in this country would legalize such barbaric means of state-sanctioned murder.

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