capital punishment

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14% of Death Row Inmates Are There Because of Just 5 Prosecutors

Report argues overzealous DAs are making the death penalty arbitrary

(Newser) - Just five prosecutors representing less than 0.2% of US counties are responsible for 14% of all people currently on death row and 5% of people sentenced to death in the past 40 years. That's according to a recently released report from Harvard Law School's Fair Punishment Project.... More »

Feds Will Pursue Death Penalty Against Dylann Roof

'The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision'

(Newser) - The Justice Department announced Tuesday it will seek the death penalty for Dylann Roof , who is accused of killing nine people during a Bible study class inside a historic black church last June in Charleston, South Carolina. "The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this... More »

Texas Execution Halted, State Won't Appeal

John Battaglia killed his 2 young daughters as revenge against his ex

(Newser) - The Texas Attorney General's Office is not appealing a federal appeals court ruling that has halted the scheduled execution of a Dallas man convicted of killing his two young daughters 15 years ago, the AP reports. State attorneys could have appealed to the US Supreme Court the decision to... More »

Pope to Catholic Leaders: No Executions This Year

He says there are no exceptions to 'do not kill'

(Newser) - Pope Francis has urged Catholic leaders to show "exemplary" courage by not allowing executions this year, while expressing hope that eventually the death penalty will be abolished worldwide. Francis told tourists and pilgrims in St. Peter's Square on Sunday that "the commandment 'do not kill' holds... More »

What It's Like to Witness an Execution

Columnist describes his first experience

(Newser) - Last week, reporter St. John Barned-Smith went to cover his first execution. "You'll never be the same," one anti-death-penalty protester warned him outside Texas's Walls Unit prison, where James Garrett Freeman would be put to death for killing a Texas game warden in 2007, when he... More »

US Executions at Lowest Level in Decades

New death sentences also way down

(Newser) - The number of people executed in the United States this year dropped to the lowest level since 1991, as states impose fewer death sentences and defendants in capital cases get access to better legal help. The Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit organization that opposes capital punishment and tracks the... More »

Documents: Arizona Tried to Illegally Import Execution Drug

Federal agents stopped the shipment at the airport

(Newser) - Arizona tried to illegally import a lethal injection drug, but federal agents stopped the shipment at the Phoenix airport, according to documents obtained by the AP. Arizona paid nearly $27,000 for sodium thiopental, an anesthetic that has been used to carry out executions but is no longer manufactured by... More »

Scalia: Wouldn't Surprise Me If Death Penalty Struck Down

Justice also talks retirement plans, how the Constitution isn't flexible

(Newser) - The death penalty is not long for this Earth, or at least for the US, if Antonin Scalia's predictions are to be believed. The conservative Supreme Court justice spoke Tuesday at the University of Minnesota Law School, and capital punishment was brought up after Scalia started expounding on his... More »

Ohio Delays All Executions Until 2017

State is having trouble finding supplies of lethal injection drugs

(Newser) - Ohio has delayed executions until 2017 because of problems finding supplies of lethal injection drugs. The announcement on Monday means Ohio will go at least two years without putting anyone to death and marks another setback in efforts to carry out capital punishment in the state. The Department of Rehabilitation... More »

Texas Inmate Executed for Cop's Death

He's the 12th convicted killer executed in Texas this year

(Newser) - A Texas man already being sought for a neighbor's slaying when he killed a Dallas police officer outside a club in 2001 was executed Wednesday. Licho Escamilla, 33, was given a lethal injection for the death of Christopher James, who was trying to break up a brawl involving Escamilla.... More »

Supreme Court Gets Highly Political Cases

Unions and abortion rights could be in jeopardy

(Newser) - The Supreme Court is facing a docket of high-profile political cases that will test whether recent liberal victories were more fluke or firm conviction, the New York Times reports. The court—which is divided 5-4 for conservatives, but saw Justice Roberts vote liberal on Obamacare and same-sex marriage—will look... More »

Drug Glitch Leads Oklahoma to Halt 3 Executions

Problem was discovered just hours before one execution was scheduled

(Newser) - Oklahoma's highest criminal court unanimously agreed Friday to halt all of the state's scheduled executions after the state's prison system received the wrong drug for a lethal injection this week. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals granted the state's request and issued indefinite stays of execution... More »

Ohio's Trouble: 24 Executions, No Drugs

State has just 4 months to line them up

(Newser) - Ohio has four months to get the lethal drugs it needs to execute two-dozen condemned killers, the first of whom is scheduled to die Jan. 21. The state's last execution was performed in January 2014, when it tested a new two-drug execution method that left a condemned man gasping... More »

Death Row Inmate Dies, but Not via Execution

California has only executed 13 out of hundreds of death row inmates since 1978

(Newser) - Ronald Seaton had been on death row at San Quentin State Prison for 26 years following a 1986 conviction for murder, robbery, and burglary. On Friday, he died of natural causes while awaiting execution, NBC Bay Area reports. Seaton became the 69th death row inmate to die of natural causes... More »

Boston Bomber: That Trial Was Completely Unfair

Lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev make their argument

(Newser) - Not a huge surprise: Lawyers for Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev today appealed his death-penalty conviction, arguing that "continuous and unrelenting publicity" biased jurors and made a fair trial in Boston impossible, NBC News reports. "Put simply, prejudicial media coverage, events, and environment saturated greater Boston, including the... More »

Those Who Believe in Pure Evil Tend to Support This

And the issue becomes more black-and-white

(Newser) - As Nebraska becomes the 19th state to abolish capital punishment, researchers out of Kansas State University have been investigating just what makes some Americans more fervently in favor of the death penalty than others. One clear factor, they report in the journal Personality and Individual Differences , is whether someone believes... More »

Nebraska Gov. Uses Pen to Keep Death Penalty Alive

Pete Ricketts vetoes repeal bill

(Newser) - Gov. Pete Ricketts has vetoed a bill to repeal the death penalty in Nebraska, saying it would send a message to criminals that the state is "soft on crime." State lawmakers voted 32-15 last week against capital punishment, the Omaha World-Herald reports. It will take 30 votes to... More »

No More Room on San Quentin's Death Row

It's essentially full, governor warns

(Newser) - California Gov. Jerry Brown has submitted his $113 billion budget proposal, and in it he notes that, on average, 20 new felons are expected to show up per year on death row in San Quentin State Prison, the Los Angeles Times reports. One problem: There's no more room. With... More »

Utah Approves Firing Squads

Gov. Gary Herbert signs law to OK backup to lethal injection

(Newser) - Utah became the only state to allow firing squads for executions today when Gov. Gary Herbert signed a law approving the method's use when no lethal-injection drugs are available. Herbert has said he finds the firing squad "a little bit gruesome," but Utah is a capital punishment... More »

During Botched Execution, Inmate Tried to Help

Tulsa World investigates all that went wrong in Clayton Lockett's lethal injection

(Newser) - At the end of the night of April 29, 2014, convicted murderer Clayton Lockett lay dead on a gurney, which is the outcome the state of Oklahoma sought. But the botched execution was a "procedural disaster" from the get-go, according to an investigation in the Tulsa World , based on... More »

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