"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Alabama's execution drugs may be close to expiring

In the past year, two states have seen their lethal injection drugs expire — forcing state officials to search for new drugs or scrap executions altogether.

It’s possible Alabama could soon face a similar hurdle.

A number of factors — the pace of executions, new information about the state’s last purchase of the drugs and the shelf life of the state’s drugs — suggest that Alabama could be out of drugs in about a year, if it isn’t already.

Any estimate of the timetable requires guesswork, though, because the Alabama prison officials have been secretive about when and where they get the drugs used in executions.

Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said states aren’t trying to keep the drugs secret from the public, but rather from the makers of the drugs. 

What follows are questions and answers on the topic:

Can execution drugs really expire?

Yes. Two states, Arkansas and Florida, recently acknowledged that they could no longer use the drugs they’d acquired for executions because the drugs were past or near their expiration dates.

Obviously, expiration dates and other rules are meant for the safety of patients who are trying to heal, not convicts the state is trying to kill. Still, states are under pressure to follow federal rules for the use of drugs — particularly after Alabama and other states got into trouble with the Drug Enforcement Agency in 2011 for illegally obtaining its supply of an earlier execution drug, sodium thiopental.

Alabama may have already passed a drug expiration deadline once in the past. In 2014, after nearly a year without an execution, state officials acknowledged that they couldn’t execute more inmates because the state’s supply of execution drug pentobarbital had run out.

It’s unclear whether the state had used all its drugs or let its drugs expire.

Later that year, the state switched to a new drug, midazolam.

How hard can it be for a state government to get these drugs?

Pretty hard, actually. Opposition to the death penalty is strong in Europe, where many drug manufacturers are headquartered, and European drug companies years ago began shutting down sales of execution drugs to prison systems in the United States.

More recently, U.S. companies and distributors have joined in, partly because professional associations for doctors and pharmacists have expressed their opposition to members’ participation in executions.

In 2014, state prison officials campaigned for a bill that would make the names of drug suppliers a secret, in hopes of protecting suppliers from political pressure. That bill didn’t pass, but the state still refuses to release the names of its drug suppliers.

Manufacturers are genuinely skittish. When drugmaker Akorn was mentioned in an Alabama death penalty appeal in early 2015, the company quickly moved to declare it would never intentionally sell drugs for executions, and even asked for the state to return any drugs it had. When drugmaker Becton-Dickinson was mentioned in court documents later that year, that company also declared that its drugs weren’t meant for use by U.S. prison systems.

Earlier this month, the state prison system’s main drug supplier, Corizon Health, acknowledged that it had never supplier drugs for an execution either. Since then, The Star has also contacted drugmakers Baxter, Fresenius Kabi and West-Ward. All of them said they weren’t the suppliers of Alabama’s execution drugs.

So who’s really supplying the drugs?

It’s not 100 percent clear that either Akorn or Becton-Dickinson are the actual makers of the drugs Alabama has used in its most recent executions. State officials used technical information from both companies in their arguments in court, but it’s possible they were using that information as a stand-in for the technical specs from their actual drug supplier.

It’s equally possible that they bought drugs produced by either or both manufacturers, but got them from a third-party supplier against the wishes of Akorn and Becton-Dickinson.

When will the drugs expire?

Possibly as early as September. Maybe never. It all depends on how you read the timeline of events.

Here’s what we know: In September 2014, state officials said they had enough midazolam on hand to kill nine inmates. That means the oldest drugs in the inventory could be nearly three years old.

And here’s what we found out earlier this month: In an Arizona court case last year, lawyers asked Alabama officials to give depositions on their sources of execution drugs. Anne Hill, a lawyer for the Department of Corrections, declined to name the state’s drug suppliers, but did say that Alabama last bought midazolam in 2015.

That could mean one of two things.

If the state bought drugs in both 2014 and again in 2015, Alabama may have a secure supply of drugs — a seller they can go back to again and again.

But the 2015 purchase could have another meaning.

Akorn demanded a return of its drugs in March 2015. After that, Becton-Dickinson got more mentions in court documents, but the company didn’t announce its position on death penalty drug sales until September of that year.

If Alabama bought Akorn’s drugs in 2014 and returned or destroyed them months later, the state might have bought drugs made by Becton-Dickinson between March and September of 2015.

Becton-Dickinson’s midazolam has a shelf life of no more than two years, according to officials at Fresenius Kabi, the company that acquired Becton’s injectable midazolam operation in 2016. If the state has a batch of Becton-Dickinson’s midazolam, purchased between March and September 2015, those drugs could expire by September, or they could be out of date already.

Drugs by other manufacturers seem to have shelf lives that aren’t much longer.

Injectable midazolam in its powder form lasts for three years unopened, said Christopher McCurdy, pharmacy professor at the University of Florida and president-elect of the the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists.

Officials of the Alabama attorney general’s office said they had no comment on the purchase or expiration dates of midazolam.

What evidence supports the soon-to-expire theory?

Within the last month, Alabama executed two inmates, Robert Melson and Tommy Arthur, just two weeks apart. But state officials tell The Anniston Star there are no future execution dates set.

That seems to mimic the recent execution schedule in Arkansas, where the state sought to execute eight inmates in rapid succession to beat the deadline on their execution drugs. Another state, Florida, saw its midazolam expire last year and has already switched to a new execution drug.

What evidence works against the soon-to-expire theory?

As any addict knows, there are lots of ways to get drugs for off-label use if you’re really determined. The state could be using an offshore supplier or transferring drugs from another state agency.

The state Department of Public Health buys millions of dollars’ worth of drugs every year, but both current director Tom Miller and past director Don Williamson told The Star the department hasn’t supplied midazolam to the prison system for executions

“We were never asked nor did we order it,” Williamson said.

The Department of Mental Health’s Chief of Staff Jerry Mitchell told The Star the department hasn’t supplied DOC with midazolam, either.

That eliminates two of the state’s biggest purchasers of drugs, but there’s always the chance the state could have picked up the drugs through a different state agency.

Alabama could even pay a compounding pharmacist — a specialist who mixes drugs in small batches —to make the drugs from scratch. Court documents show the state couldn’t find a single Alabama pharmacist who would take the job. But there’s always the possibility state officials have ordered drugs from an out-of-state supplier.

Source: The Anniston Star, Chelsea Jarvis and Tim Lockette, Star staff writers, June 24, 2017

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Will Morva faces execution July 6 for two 2006 killings. But his mental illness has set off a new death penalty battle.

Someone was trying to kill him. William C. Morva was certain of it.

He couldn’t breathe and he was withering away, he told his mother in a jailhouse call.

“Somebody wants me to die and I don’t know who it is,” he said. “They know my health is dwindling, okay?”

He sounded paranoid. His voice grew more frantic with each call over several months on the recorded lines.

“How much more time do you think my body has before it gives out?” he asked just months before he escaped from custody, killing an unarmed guard and later a sheriff’s deputy before his capture in woods near Virginia Tech’s campus.

Morva faces execution July 6 for the 2006 killings.

With the date looming, Morva’s family, friends and lawyers are pressing for clemency from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) in what has become a broader national push to eliminate capital punishment for people with severe mental illnesses such as Morva’s delusional disorder.

Supporters say the jury at Morva’s trial was given inaccurate information about his mental health and are asking McAuliffe to commute his death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The Supreme Court in recent years has ruled that juveniles, whose brains are not fully developed, and people with intellectual disabilities are not eligible for the death penalty. Lawmakers in eight states, including Virginia, Tennessee and Indiana, have introduced bills that would expand the prohibition to people with severe mental illnesses.

A vote on an Ohio measure pending in the state legislature is expected this fall. It is backed by a coalition of providers of mental-health services, social justice groups, religious leaders, former state Supreme Court justices and former Republican governor Bob Taft.

The bills address punishment, not guilt or innocence. If lawmakers in Columbus sign off on the measure, Ohio would become the first state to pass an exclusion for severe mental illness among the 31 that retain the death penalty.

Bipartisan legislative efforts underscore shifting views of capital punishment, and about whether it can be applied consistently and fairly.

Advocates for reform say the penalty was not intended for people who are incapable of distinguishing between delusions and reality, and that jurors often misunderstand mental illness.

The reformers’ efforts have met with resistance mostly from prosecutors and law enforcement officials who say jurors already can factor in mental illness at sentencing and that the exemptions are too broad.

Morva, 35, exhausted his legal appeals when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up his case in February.

“It hurts me so much to know that there is nothing I can do to fix him,” Elizabeth Morva, his mother, said in an affidavit in support of her son.

Morva was 24 when he fatally shot a decorated sheriff’s deputy, Cpl. Eric Sutphin, and beloved hospital security guard Derrick McFarland. Each was married and the father of two children.

“If someone had intervened sooner, I truly believe William would never have killed those two men,” his mother wrote. “But I cannot change the past. I can only say that I am so sorry and ask that my son please be spared.”

Attorney Dawn Davison of the Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center says the jury in Morva’s 2008 trial did not consider his psychotic disorder because experts in that case did not have access to Morva’s complete history. Morva was under the influence of his delusions when he escaped and killed Sutphin and McFarland, she said in submitting Morva’s clemency application.

Source: The Washington Post, Ann E. Marimow, June 24, 2017


William Morva, a 35-year-old US-Hungarian national, is due to be executed in Virginia on 6 July. A psychiatrist has diagnosed him with delusional disorder, and concluded that this contributed to the crimes for which he was sentenced to death. The jury was not told that he had this serious mental disability.

Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:

* Calling for commutation of William Morva’s death sentence and medical care for his mental disability;

* Noting the diagnosis of delusional disorder, but that the jurors were told he had a less serious mental disability and did not experience delusions, denying them a full picture of who they were being asked to sentence;

* Explaining that you are not seeking to downplay the seriousness of violent crime or its consequences.

Friendly reminder: If you send an email, please create your own instead of forwarding this one!

Contact below official by 6 July, 2017 (by 22 June if possible, in case of early decision):

Governor Terry McAuliffe,
Common Ground for Virginia
P.O. Box 1475, Richmond, VA 23218, USA

Phone: +1 804-786-2211 | Fax: +1 804-371-6531
Email (via website): https://governor.virginia.gov/constituent-services/communicating-with-the-governors-office/
Twitter: @TerryMcAuliffe

Salutation: Dear Governor

Note: The Governor’s contact form requires a US-based address and telephone number in order to submit an appeal. We encourage you to use the comment form on their website, and if you are based outside of the US, to instead use AI USA’s New York contact details as your address/telephone number:

Amnesty International USA New York Office
5 Penn Plaza, New York, NY, 10001, USA
Phone: 212.633.4187

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Kennedy considering retiring from Supreme Court: reports

Speculation is swirling that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy could announce his retirement as early as this term, The Associated Press and CNN reported Saturday.

Kennedy is considered the most pivotal justice on the Supreme Court, often known for casting the tie-breaking vote in key decisions. 

While he's among the court's conservative justices, he has sided with his liberal colleagues at times, including on the court's 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, permitting same-sex marriage nationwide. 

But Kennedy, now 80, is said to be considering stepping down from the Supreme Court, according to CNN, though he has not publicly signaled he will do so in the next year.

Fueling such speculation is a reunion between Kennedy and his clerks happening over the weekend that was pushed up a year from its original date, according to the AP.

If Kennedy leaves the Supreme Court in the near future, it would pave the way for President Trump to further shape the court by nominating his replacement. 

Trump's first pick for the court, Justice Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed in April.

Supreme Court nominations, however, have become increasingly political. 

Senate Republicans voted earlier this year to change the chamber's rules to require only 51 votes to confirm nominees to the high court, amid efforts by Democrats to block Gorsuch's confirmation. 

Source: The Hill, Max Greenwood, June 24, 2017

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

When I witnessed death by appointment

(CNN) - TV kliegs lit up live shots in one corner of the parking lot, where protesters prayed, preached and crowded onto the scene. Midnight, January 5, 1994, was coming fast.

I rushed to clear the first gate and head down the empty, well-lit walkway past B Block, a close supervision wing at the Idaho State Penitentiary. Prisoners screamed and banged on the steel security panels over their windows, and one voice howled. "You're going to see him die every night the rest of your life!"

Inside, I lined up with other reporters in the press pool to cover the execution of Keith Wells. The 31-year-old had beaten barmaid Brandi Rains and her friend John Justad to death with a baseball bat in 1990 while robbing the Rose Bar in Boise. Wells pleaded innocent at trial, was convicted and, a month before the execution, called a newspaper to confess. He ordered his attorneys to stop fighting the execution, and the state granted his wish to die.

America continues to grapple with the death penalty, most recently the controversy over Arkansas' trying to rush the executions of eight prisoners because the state's supply of a lethal injection drug was expiring.

As someone who has served as an official witness to an execution, the death penalty is no abstraction, but it's also no horror. My response, or lack thereof, makes me suspect we lack the moral acumen to carry out the death penalty.

The witness lottery

There is no smaller talk than the mumblings of reporters waiting to be picked to witness an execution. We shuffle around on the buffed linoleum floor of the family visitation room where a few plastic chairs are unstacked for us.

Our guide, a Department of Correction staffer, reviews the rules: Four reporters will join the families, lawyers and state officials in the death chamber. When Wells is dead, the lottery winners will come back to the cafeteria to conduct a press conference before filing their own stories.

Idaho hadn't executed anyone in 36 years, so the process and protocol are new to everyone there.

The first name is drawn.

"Yessss!" anchorman Bob Holland pumps his fist. Big ratings for KTVB, the local NBC affiliate, tonight. But as I'm sneering at his unseemly display, I am leaning forward, listening intently to see if the next name is mine.

On choosing to bear witness

Idaho's death chamber
Idaho's death chamber
I'm here to watch because I can, not because my editor insisted. I told myself I volunteered because I think attorneys and trial courts are fallible, while death is permanent. Also, it seemed, and still does, that if the state is going to kill killers, the public has an obligation to test its commitment to the law by personally observing and absorbing the moral impact: Do we like the reality as much as we like the theory?

It ought to be televised, I've said, playing devil's advocate with true-believer friends. Shut off all other programs and make everyone watch, I argued.

This drama of ethics, orchestrated by Wells and celebrated by hardline crime fighters, had begun to confirm my most comfortable prejudice: that we all lack the seriousness to make defensible life-and-death decisions in noncombat situations. It's one thing to see a threat and save a life by taking the life of an attacker. That's instinctual. But when the predator has already struck, what is gained by methodical state extermination?

In the industrialized world, only the United States, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan still execute criminals. The rest of the First World is retreating from it, according to data compiled by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

➤ Click here to read the full article

Source: CNN, Dean Miller, June 22, 2017. Dean Miller is a career journalist, former director of the Stony Brook University Center for News Literacy and currently at work on several manuscripts, including a citizen's guide to finding reliable news.

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Les fant√īmes du quartier des condamn√©s √† mort

Click here to Google translate the following text into English (or into your own language).

« La guillotine rend tout d√©risoire. » - Robert Badinter

Les locaux de la Folie-Regnault, moins fr√©quent√©s que les abords de la Roquette un jour d'ex√©cution, n'en furent pas moins visit√©s √† de nombreuses reprises et par toutes sortes de personnes. Par des hommes d'√Čtat, des missions √©trang√®res venus se rendre compte de l'efficacit√© de la machine, ou par des visiteurs privil√©gi√©s que l'ex√©cuteur avait l'obligation de recevoir, bien qu'il d√©test√Ęt ce genre d'exhibition. Car il se trouve des gens que la recherche du grand frisson conduisit √† « toucher » les bois de justice, √† demander au bourreau de l'essayer sur les traditionnelles bottes de paille qui servaient √† tester l'aff√Ľtage du couperet. Lorsque la demande √©tait officielle, il √©tait oblig√© d'obtemp√©rer. Mais il arriva que Maman Clarence, en son absence, propose une visite √† l'int√©rieur de la remise, pour des inconnus de passage, aussi curieux d'√©motions fortes que reconnaissants d'avoir √©t√© secr√®tement accueillis. Une jeune Anglaise, un jour, voulut se coucher sur la bascule et passer la t√™te sous la lunette. Accroch√©s au-dessus de sa t√™te, quarante kilos de bois, de fonte et d'acier en suspension...

Il faut dire que la Veuve était impressionnante lorsqu'on l'avait dressée sur ses axes verticaux de quatre mètres cinquante, du haut desquels, à plus de vingt kilomètres à l'heure, la lame oblique dessinée par le docteur Louis tranchait une tête en deux centièmes de seconde ! Il existait deux guillotines : l'une, pesant cinq cent quatre-vingts kilos, ne servait qu'à Paris ; l'autre, plus légère et plus maniable, était transportée par voie de chemin de fer en province, et par deux fois elle passera les frontières.

Tel un jeu de construction, les aides du bourreau chargeaient dans le fourgon du p√®re M√©mi les √©l√©ments entrepos√©s dans le hangar de la Folie-Regnault d'abord, puis de la Sant√©, pour les conduire sur le lieu de l'ex√©cution. Chaque pi√®ce √©tait √† sa place, comme sur un √©tabli, marqu√©e √† la craie de sa silhouette encore innocente. La « notice » du docteur Louis, qui d√©crivait la guillotine par le menu pour en faciliter la construction et le montage, √©voquait d√©j√† la « machine √† Deibler », √† quelques d√©tails pr√®s. De la Bastille √† la Sant√©, elle √©tait rest√©e fid√®le √† la tradition r√©publicaine. Elle √©tait ainsi compos√©e, depuis plus d'un si√®cle, « de deux montants parall√®les, en bois de ch√™ne, de la hauteur de dix pieds, joints en haut par une traverse, et mont√©s solidement sur une robe avec des contrefiches de c√īt√© et par-derri√®re. Ces deux montants seront √† un pied de distance et auront six pouces d'√©paisseur. La face interne de ces montants aura une cannelure longitudinale, carr√©e, d'un pouce de profondeur, pour recevoir les oreillons d'un tranchoir. √Ä la partie sup√©rieure de chacun de ces montants, au-dessous de la traverse, et dans les √©paisseurs, sera plac√©e une poulie de cuivre. Le tranchoir, de bonne trempe, de la solidit√© des meilleurs couperets, fait par un habile taillandier, coupera par sa convexit√©. Cette lame tranchante aura huit pouces d'√©tendue traversable et six de hauteur. Le dos de cette lame coupante sera √©pais comme celui d'une hache. Sous ce dos seront, par le forgeron, pratiqu√©es des ouvertures pour pouvoir, avec des cerceaux de fer, fixer sur ce dos un poids de trente livres et plus. Le tranchoir devant glisser de haut en bas dans les rainures des deux montants, son dos aura un pied de travers plus deux oreillons carr√©s, d'un pouce de saillie, pour entrer dans ces rainures. Une corde, assez forte, et d'une longueur suffisante, passera dans l'anneau et soutiendra le tranchoir, sous la traverse sup√©rieure. Le billot de bois sur lequel doit √™tre pos√© le col du patient aura huit pouces de haut et quatre pouces d'√©paisseur... »

Depuis la R√©volution, la machine dont se servait Anatole Deibler n'avait donc pas beaucoup chang√©. Son allure g√©n√©rale √©tait la m√™me, √† l'exception de quelques perfectionnements notamment apport√©s par son p√®re, dont la pose, de chaque c√īt√© du mouton, de roulettes destin√©es √† l'acc√©l√©ration de la chute, et de ressorts dispos√©s au bas des montants pour en amortir l'arr√™t. Le bruit qui suit la lib√©ration du couperet dans les rainures de fer des montants verticaux, le son mat enfin, qui conclut le travail de la lame, rend « la mangeuse d'hommes » plus effrayante encore. Et le silence pesant qui r√®gne apr√®s la chute du couteau, plus terrible que la mort elle-m√™me.

Pour la monter, les aides du bourreau s'y prenaient une heure avant l'ex√©cution, bien qu'il leur fall√Ľt moins de temps pour la dresser dans des conditions normales ; car tout s'embo√ģte, se visse ou se boulonne pour √©viter le moindre bruit, le moindre indice qui puisse r√©veiller le condamn√© dans la cellule qu'il occupe, toujours √† proximit√© du lieu de l'ex√©cution. Ils commen√ßaient par disposer sur le sol un croisillon d'appui en forme de T, puis ils dressaient les deux montants qu'ils √©tayaient par quatre jambes de force. √Ä la Roquette, la structure reposait sur cinq dalles fich√©es dans le sol √† demeure, √† l'angle de la rue de la Croix-Faubin. Les deux montants, espac√©s de trente-sept centim√®tres, p√®sent pr√®s de cent quarante kilos ; ils sont reli√©s par un linteau appel√© « le chapeau », dans lequel prend place la pince qui retient le couteau surmont√© par le mouton. En face des montants, les aides mettaient alors en place un b√Ęti de bois sur lequel ils accrochaient la bascule, de la taille d'un homme. Une fois rabattue √† la perpendiculaire du couteau, cette planche mont√©e sur roulettes √©tait pouss√©e jusqu'aux montants, la t√™te du condamn√© reposant alors sur la partie inf√©rieure de la lunette. La partie sup√©rieure, qui est aussi en demi-lune, est fix√©e sur les montants verticaux, pr√™te √† s'abattre sur la nuque de celui qui √©tait pr√©cipit√© sur la bascule.

Enfin, il ne faut pas omettre une troisi√®me am√©lioration, plus fondamentale que les pr√©c√©dentes, et qui permettait √† l'ex√©cuteur d'acc√©l√©rer le d√©clenchement du couperet. Celui-ci, viss√© sur le mouton, est retenu par une fl√®che d'acier engag√©e dans une √©norme pince, elle-m√™me press√©e par un syst√®me de ressorts. Il suffisait alors d'√©carter ces ressorts au moyen d'une tringle pour que la pince s'ouvre aussit√īt : la fl√®che, qui n'est plus maintenue, tombe alors avec le couperet. C'est ce qui explique l'usage des deux manettes utilis√©es par le bourreau qui constitue l'am√©lioration technique la plus notable qu'ait invent√©e le dernier Deibler. « L'une des deux manettes, un simple bouton, explique Fran√ßois Foucart, abat la partie mobile du carcan et ce casse-t√™te se rabat violemment sous l'effet des ressorts. Dans le meilleur des cas, le condamn√© est assomm√©. Frapp√© √† la nuque, il s'imagine avoir √©t√© manqu√© par le couperet et tente de retirer sa t√™te, d'instinct. » L'effort ainsi fourni par le condamn√© est tel que la mort survient souvent en m√™me temps que la chute du couteau. « Toute l'habilet√© du bourreau, insiste Foucart, consiste √† manoeuvrer simultan√©ment le bouton qui, l√Ęchant un ressort, abat la partie sup√©rieure du casse-t√™te, puis la poign√©e qui d√©clenche la chute du couperet. Cette poign√©e de cuivre, us√©e, patin√©e, ressemble au bec-de-cane d'une honn√™te √©picerie de campagne... Ces deux gestes, en une seconde ou deux, c'√©tait toute l'habilet√© d'Anatole Deibler. Trop t√īt, c'est peut-√™tre la t√™te mal engag√©e ; trop tard, c'est prolonger le supplice. »

Quand il avait pris ses fonctions, Anatole Deibler s'√©tait fait un point d'honneur de les exercer dans les r√®gles et selon les instructions nettes et pr√©cises donn√©es au bourreau. Un texte, r√©dig√© √† son intention, exigeait de lui qu'il s'y conform√Ęt, auquel cas, disait d√©j√† le document du secr√©taire perp√©tuel de l'Acad√©mie de chirurgie de Paris sous la R√©volution : « S'il y avait quelques erreurs dans ces d√©tails, elles seraient faciles √† v√©rifier. » L'appareil devait √™tre « essay√© » apr√®s avoir √©t√© mont√©, puis le premier soin de l'ex√©cuteur en chef √©tait d'enlever la vis mobile qui arr√™tait le ressort de la lunette. Ensuite, il agissait de la fa√ßon suivante, √©dict√©e point par point par les fonctionnaires du minist√®re de la Justice :

« Il prendra en main la grosse corde munie d'un anneau en forme de huit. Cet anneau doit √™tre pass√© au crochet fixe du couperet. En tirant sur la corde, il montera le couperet jusque sous le chapiteau. Il constatera que le couperet n'est plus maintenu que par la double pince √† ressort. Il √©cartera les deux cordes, la grosse, la petite, et les fera passer dans les deux crochets d'acier dispos√©s √† cet effet le long du montant gauche. Il placera le grand panier parall√®lement √† la plate-forme et imm√©diatement au-dessous du plan inclin√©. Il s'assurera que le seau de zinc, en forme de baignoire, est derri√®re l'appareil. Il disposera autour du seau le paravent en bois qui est destin√© √† contenir les jets de sang et les √©claboussures. Il rel√®vera la lunette en la prenant de la main droite par la poign√©e de fer. La guillotine est ainsi appr√™t√©e... »

Extrait de : Anatole Deibler, l'homme qui trancha 400 têtes, Gérard A. Jaeger, Editions du Félin, 2001

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Future Of Ohio's Death Penalty Hangs On Legality Of Midazolam

In 2014, Dennis McGuire of Montgomery County was executed. The process did not go as planned.

Witnesses reported McGuire struggled against his restraints and made choking noises before finally dying after 26 minutes, an unusually long time for that process.

No executions have happened in Ohio since, and the state has been caught in a protracted legal battle over which drugs can be used in executions.

The latest chapter in that battle happened last week in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. The court heard arguments from the state and from Mark Haddad, a lawyer representing three death row inmates.

A previous injunction from a lower court judge, halting the state's execution process, questioned the use of the drug midazolam. A three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court upheld the injunction.

But in light of one judge's vehement dissent and an urging from Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine's office, the full bench of the Sixth Circuit Court agreed to void the panel's decision and take up the case.

Doug Berman, professor at the Moritz College of Law at the Ohio State University, says that the question at the heart of the case has a lot of historical precedent.

"Whether it's firing squad, hanging, electrocution, guillotine ... though it's possible to make that painless, it seems like there's a chance if done improperly that there would be excruciating pain in the execution process," Berman says. "Lethal injection emerged and was adopted by every state including Ohio because of the belief, the hope, the desire to have a method that would be painless in carrying out a death sentence."

Whether midazolam ensures a painless death, though, is up for debate. Haddad argues that midazolam puts the prisoners at risk of cruel and unusual punishment, and the state could return to using a single overdose of pentobarbital.

Ohio is not the only one struggling with the legality of midazolam. Arkansas has also faced legal setbacks, including one in April from the U.S. Supreme Court, to carrying out its own executions.

And that means this case could have nationwide implications.

Source: radio.wosu.org, Clare Rothe, June 22, 2017

Man Sentenced to Death Penalty in Girlfriend's Ohio Slaying

An Illinois man convicted of abducting his estranged girlfriend from Kentucky and killing her along an Ohio interstate has been sentenced to receive the death penalty.

A judge in southwest Ohio's Warren County sentenced Brookport, Illinois, resident Terry Froman on Thursday. 

The judge followed the recommendation of jurors who this month found Froman guilty of aggravated murder and kidnapping in the September 2014 slaying of Kimberly Thomas.

A message left at Froman's attorney's office hasn't been returned.

Froman's attorney said during the trial evidence would show "mitigating factors."

Prosecutors say Froman became vengeful when Thomas ordered him out of her Mayfield, Kentucky, home. They say Froman abducted Thomas from Kentucky after fatally shooting Thomas' 17-year-old son, Michael E. Mohney.

Froman faces charges in Kentucky for Mohney's death.

Source: Associated Press, June 23, 2017

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Judge Accepts Sweeping Reforms of Arizona Death Penalty Protocols

Arizona's death chamber
Arizona's death chamber
A U.S. judge accepted on Thursday major revisions to Arizona's death penalty procedures, such as eliminating paralytic drugs in lethal injections and giving witnesses more access to watch prisoners inside the death chamber, a lawyer for the death row inmates said.

The changes were part of a settlement reached in a 2014 lawsuit brought by seven death row inmates who argued Arizona's lethal injection practices were experimental, secretive and caused inmates prolonged suffering.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Neil Wake in Phoenix signed an order that in effect authorized a deal reached between the state and the lawyers for death row inmates, according to Dale Baich, a lawyer for the death row litigants.

The agreement was announced last week in federal court in Phoenix.

The deal marked the first time a state had agreed to such major changes in its drug protocol and execution procedures because of prisoners' complaints, Baich said.

Representatives for Arizona's attorney general and Department of Corrections did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Lawyers for the inmates called on the state to drop the use of paralytic agents used to halt breathing, arguing the chemicals hid signs of consciousness and suffering during executions.

The state also agreed to limit the authority of the director of the department of corrections to change execution drugs, and allow a prisoner time to challenge any drug changes, Baich said.

States have been scrambling to find chemicals for lethal injection mixes after U.S. and European pharmaceutical makers placed a sales ban in recent years on drugs for executions because of ethical concerns.

In December, Arizona also agreed in the same case to stop using the valium-like sedative midazolam, or related products.

Midazolam has been used in troubled executions in Arizona, Alabama, Ohio and Oklahoma. In some instances, witnesses said convicted murderers twisted on gurneys before dying.

It also was used along with a narcotic in Arizona's last execution - that of murderer Joseph Wood in 2014. Wood was seen gasping for air during a nearly two-hour procedure in which he received 15 rounds of drug injections. Lethal injections typically result in death in a matter of minutes.

Arizona also agreed under the settlement to allow greater transparency by letting witnesses view more of the execution process, including the moment the executioner administers the drugs intravenously, Baich said.

Source: Reuters, June 23, 2017

Federal judge lifts stay on Arizona executions

Almost three years after a death-row prisoner agonized on a gurney for nearly two hours during a botched execution, Arizona can legally resume executions — if the state Department of Corrections can find the drugs to do so.

On Thursday, a U.S. District Court judge in Phoenix lifted a stay imposed in November 2014, four months after executioners hired by the Corrections Department injected 15 doses of a drug cocktail into convicted murderer Joseph Wood.

One dose was supposed to kill him, but instead, Wood snorted and gasped as witnesses watched and attorneys argued in a telephone call to the judge about whether to stop the execution.

Judge Neil Wake, who had presided over years of litigation over execution protocols, ordered the Corrections Department to investigate the flawed execution and litigate its execution protocol with attorneys representing other death-row inmates.

Wake shut down executions until such time as the case was settled or adjudicated.

On Thursday, the Corrections Department and the state of Arizona signed off on a settlement agreement with the prisoners' attorneys. Wake terminated the case and lifted the stay.

Among its conditions, Corrections agreed not to use the drug combination employed in the Wood execution.

Instead, it rewrote its protocol to specify two fast-acting barbiturates, sodium thiopental or pentobarbital, in single-drug injections.

But neither drug is readily available to states. Thiopental, which was used in executions over four decades, is no longer made in the United States and cannot be legally imported. Pharmaceutical companies refuse to sell pentobarbital for executions, though it can be custom-made by compounding pharmacies.

Corrections Department officials did not immediately respond to questions about whether they had access to the drugs, but on June 12, an assistant Arizona attorney general told Wake the state did not possess either.

Other terms of the settlement require that the new execution protocol:

  • Take away Corrections Director Charles Ryan's authority to make last-minute drug changes or discretionary decisions, such as closing curtains into the execution chamber, if things go wrong.
  • Eliminate a traditional three-drug combination that defense attorneys believe merely masks any sign of pain or distress and replace it with the two single-drug options.
  • Remove a clause saying that defense attorneys may obtain their own drugs for their clients' executions if they pass quality standards. Execution drugs, for the most part, are controlled substances that are only available to people or entities licensed to obtain them.
"The state finally recognized what we have been saying for the last 10 years," said Dale Baich of the Federal Public Defenders Office in Phoenix. "The Department of Corrections overhauled the protocol and removed what we have long said are unconstitutional provisions ... The department also apparently concedes that the director's unfettered discretion posed unconstitutional risks to prisoners facing execution.

"The Department of Corrections will be more accountable and there will be greater transparency during the execution process," Baich said.

Early on in the litigation, Wake dismissed First Amendment claims from the prisoners requesting more transparency in execution procedures. Baich said the prisoners will appeal that dismissal.

Some of those claims have been addressed in a second lawsuit before a different judge, lodged by a coalition of media outlets. That judge has already ruled that Corrections must allow witnesses, including from the media, watch by closed-circuit TV as the condemned prisoners are strapped to the gurney and must provide a live-camera view of the control board used to inject the chemicals.

But issues remain as to the quality of drugs and the qualifications of the executioners, and the media case is scheduled for trial in late July before U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow.

Source: The Republic | azcentral.com, Michael Kiefer, June 22, 2017

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Lawyers contest constitutionality of Nebraska death penalty

Attorneys for an inmate accused of strangling his cellmate have asked a judge to declare Nebraska's death penalty unconstitutional.

Concerns over the recently reinstated capital punishment that was repealed in 2015 are among the 11 arguments in a motion filed Monday by Todd Lancaster and Sarah Newell, attorneys for Patrick Schroeder.

The move prompted a delay in Schroeder's arraignment that was set for Tuesday. Instead, District Judge Vicky Johnson scheduled a July 28 hearing on Schroeder's motion.

"Our society can no longer kill to show that killing is wrong," the motion stated.

Schroeder has been serving a life sentence for murder but now also faces a potential death sentence for allegedly choking cellmate Terry Berry Jr. to death in April at the Tecumseh State Prison.

Lancaster said the state's death penalty is racially and geographically discriminatory. He alleged that of the 9 men sent to death row in Nebraska since 2002, only one was white. The rest were black or Hispanic.

Nebraska's capital punishment law was repealed in 2015 but recently reinstated by voters. In an effort to create a viable death penalty (sic) procedure in the wake of that vote, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services changed the lethal injection protocol earlier this year.

Under the former protocol, inmates on death row were given lethal injections of 3 substances in a specific order. The new protocol gives the prisons director more authority in deciding the types and quantities of drugs to be used.

Lancaster said the decision to seek the death penalty is arbitrary because it's left to individual county attorneys.

"The decision to file aggravating circumstances can be affected by the legal experience of the prosecutor, the size and resources of the particular county, any prejudice or bias of the prosecutor, the political ambition of the prosecutor or other political circumstances," the motion stated.

Source: Associated Press, June 23, 2017

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Indian Man on Death Row in Pakistan Seeks Clemency From Army Chief

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN — An Indian man on death row in Pakistan after a military court sentenced him on charges of espionage, sabotage and terrorism has appealed to the country's army chief for clemency.

India had earlier appealed to the International Court of Justice, the highest legal body under the United Nations, in the case of Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav. India said Pakistan had sentenced an innocent Indian citizen without granting him diplomatic access, which is in violation of an international treaty.

The court ordered Pakistan last month to delay Jadhav's execution until the final verdict.

Pakistan says Jadhav confessed to being an Indian spy working to disrupt the development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a network of railways and roads that is part of the larger One Belt One Road Initiative launched by China.

In a 10-minute video released by the military, the second of its kind, Jadhav said his activities were designed to support separatist groups in Pakistan's restive Balochistan province to "raise the level of insurgency."

A news release by the Pakistan military's public relations wing said Jadhav had "expressed remorse" over lives lost and damage caused by his actions and asked for mercy on "compassionate grounds."

According to authorities, Jadhav claimed to have had a hand in sectarian violence, targeting Shi'ite Muslims, that had plagued Pakistan for a while.

Center of conflict

Balochistan has long been the center of a conflict between separatist insurgents and Pakistan's military. It is also along the route of China's planned economic corridor, which involves an investment of upward of $50 billion. The success of the project depends upon securing the routes.

Tensions between India and neighboring Pakistan, both nuclear-armed countries, have been high since a heavily armed group attacked an Indian air force base in Pathankot early last year. India blamed Pakistan-based militants for the attack.

The two sides have also been exchanging intermittent fire along the Line of Control, the de facto border in the disputed Kashmir region.

Source: VOA, Ayesha Tanzeem, June 22, 2017

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Iran: 2 Hanged on Drug Charges, 17 at Imminent Risk of Execution

Public execution in Iran
Around the end of May, 2 prisoners were reportedly hanged on drug related charges - 1 at Maragheh Prison (East Azerbaijan province) and the other at Minab Prison (Hormozgan province).

According to close sources, the execution in Maragheh Prison was carried out on Friday May 26. The prisoner has been identified as Fakhroldin Roshani. Mr. Roshani was reportedly arrested in 2012 at the age of 34. The execution in Minab Prison was reportedly carried out on Saturday May 27. The prisoner has been identified as Afshar Beiglou, 21 years of age.

A source who asked to be annonymous told Iran Human Rights: Afshar was a driver of a moving truck. In 2010, when he was delivering furniture from Urmia to Minab, approximately 2 kilograms and 700 grams of opium and crystal meth were planted in his truck. He never confessed at any point and always insisted that he was innocent. Nonetheless, in 2011, he was sentenced to death by a court in Minab and was executed on the 1st day of Ramadan."

Iranian official sources, including the media and Judiciary, have not announced these 2 executions.

Iranian parliament members had formerly requested from the Judiciary to stop drug related executions for at least 5,000 prisoners pending further investigation. However, the request has not stopped the Judiciary from carrying out death sentences for prisoners with drug related charges.

110 Death Row Prisoners in Zanjan Prison / 17 in Imminent Danger of Execution

Approximately half of the prisoners in Zanjan Prison are held on drug related charges. 

There are about 2,500 prisoners in Zanjan Prison, and about 110 of them are sentenced to death. 

This prison has a ward for juvenile offenders, and among the prisoners in this ward are 11 teenagers under the age of 18.

Among the 110 death row prisoners, at least 17 of them have had their death sentences confirmed by Iran's Supreme Court and sent for implementation.

A close source tells Iran Human Rights: "It is highly likely that the execution sentences of these 17 prisoners will be carried out right after Ramadan."

The identities of the 17 prisoners:

1) Hamza Rahimpour, sentenced to death on drug related charges, arrested in 2014.

2) Najaf Sidi, sentenced to death on drug related charges, arrested in 2011.

3) Mohammad Ali Yari, sentenced to death on drug related charges, arrested in 2013.

4) Bahman Pirouzi, sentenced to death on drug related charges, arrested in 2014.

5) Jamshid Allah Verdi, sentenced to death on drug related charges, arrested in 2011.

6) Jalil Dadyarvand, sentenced to death on drug related charges, arrested in 2012.

7) Mostafa Hassanzadeh, sentenced to death on murder charges, arrested in 2010.

8) Ali Kashefi, sentenced to death on murder charges, arrested in 2011.

9) Abbas Savaghi, sentenced to death on drug related charges, arrested in 2015.

10) Mohammad Feyzabadi, sentenced to death on drug related charges, arrested in 2014.

11) Hossein Ali Mahdavi, sentenced to death on murder charges, arrested in 2011.

12) Yassin Abedi, sentenced to death on murder charges, arrested in 2011.

There are 5 Afghan citizens who are in imminent danger of execution. These 5 prisoners have been detained for the past 6 years.

Source: Iran Human Rights, June 22, 2017

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Chinese courts call for death penalty for researchers who commit fraud

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth — a life for a lab book?

In the past few months, China has announced two new crackdowns on research misconduct — one of which could lead to executions for scientists who doctor their data.

Scientists have been sounding alarms for years about the integrity of research in China. One recent survey estimated that 40 percent of biomedical papers by Chinese scholars were tainted by misconduct. Funding bodies there have in the past announced efforts to crack down on fraud, including clawing back money from scientists who cheat on their grants.

This month, in the wake of a fake peer review scandal that claimed 107 papers by Chinese scholars, the country’s Ministry of Science and Technology proclaimed a “no tolerance” policy for research misconduct — although it’s not clear what that might look like. According to the Financial Times, the ministry said the mass retractions “seriously harmed the international reputation of our country’s scientific research and the dignity of Chinese scientists at large.”

But a prior court decision in the country threatened the equivalent of the nuclear option. In April courts approved a new policy calling for stiff prison sentences for researchers who fabricate data in studies that lead to drug approvals. If the misconduct ends up harming people, then the punishment on the table even includes the death penalty. The move, as Nature explained, groups clinical trial data fraud with counterfeiting so that “if the approved drug causes health problems, it can result in a 10-year prison term or the death penalty, in the case of severe or fatal consequences.”

We’ve long called for sterner treatment of science cheats, including the possibility of jail time — which, by the way, most Americans agree is appropriate. But we can’t support the Chinese solution. Even if we didn’t abhor the death penalty (which we do), the punishment here far outweighs the crime.

Yet if extremity in the name of virtue can be vice, it serves as reminder that science fraud is, simply put, fraud. And when it involves funding — taxpayer or otherwise — that fraud becomes theft. Think about it the same way as you would running a bogus investment fund or kiting checks. So, jail for major offenders — yes. Execution — no.

One objection to our position here might be that financial criminals typically don’t kill anyone — directly, at least. If you drain my bank account or steal my 401(k), I’m still alive. A scientist who cheats on a drug study could, at least in theory, jeopardize the health of the people who take that medication, with potentially fatal consequences.

But the reality is quite different. In the United States, at least, drug approvals hinge on data generated from many scientists or groups of researchers. They never rest on a single person. So unless everyone involved in a study is cheating, a fraudster’s data would stick out if they strayed too much from the aggregate. Ironically, then, to succeed, a would-be fraudster would be most successful if they made their bogus results look like everyone else’s — thus diluting their influence on the outcome of the trial.

And stopping short of capital punishment, jail time for fraud would itself be a big change. According to our own research, only 39 scientists worldwide between 1975 and 2015 received criminal penalties for misdeeds somehow related to their work. However, some of those cases didn’t involve research directly but instead related to incidental infractions, such as misusing funds, bribery, and even murder facilitated by access to cyanide

Click here to read the full article

Source: statnews.com, ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus, June 23, 2017

Shanghai: Female drug trafficker gets suspended death sentence

A woman has been sentenced to death - with a 2-year reprieve - for selling and transporting drugs.

Shanghai No.3 Intermediate People's Court said yesterday that the woman, a 26-year-old mother of 2 children, had previously been sentenced to prison for the same crime but had avoided serving out her terms.

From June 1 last year, the woman surnamed Zhang, a native of Anhui Province, sold 400 grams of crystal meth to a man surnamed Chen and bought about 2,000 grams from another man surnamed Li.

Li was sentenced to life, while Chen was sentenced for his involvement in another case.

According to China's Criminal Law, smuggling, selling, transporting and producing drugs amounting to over 50 grams of heroin or crystal meth face a life sentence or the death penalty.

In another case, a woman who is an Indonesian citizen, was sentenced to life for smuggling about 1,500 grams of cocaine into China, the court said.

She arrived at Pudong airport from Cambodia on May 4 last year with a backpack, and an X-ray machine detected a suspicious substance in the backpack, later confirmed to be cocaine.

The woman had previously traveled between China, Vietnam and Cambodia on several occasions, transporting drugs for others in exchange for thousands of dollars in return, the court said.

In the past 12 months, the court has closed 13 drug cases and handed down sentences to 19 people with 15 of them sentenced to at least 5 years in prison.

Source: Shanghai Daily, June 22, 2017

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