BREAKING NEWS: (4/23). The Oklahoma Supreme Court lifted the stays of execution for Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner and held that Oklahoma's execution secrecy law does not block the inmates' access to the courts. The Court said the inmates must show "actual injury" resulting from the secrecy surrounding the source of the drugs that will be used in their executions. The Court did not say how the inmates could show such injury without without knowing who made the drugs.
(4/21). The Oklahoma Supreme Court (5-4) has stayed the executions of Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner. Excerpts:
"This case presents a very narrow question: whether these appellants should have some access to an appellate tribunal for consideration of a stay of execution based upon the consideration of grave first impression constitutional issues regarding the manner in which their lives will be taken."
"The majority of the Court of Criminal Appeals refused to exercise this Court's order and to address the merits of the stay."
"[W]e refuse to violate our oaths of office and to leave the appellants with no access to the courts, their constitutionally guaranteed measure."
(4/17). New Hampshire Senate voted 12-12 on a bill to repeal the death penalty. The tie vote leaves the death penalty in place. (AP).
(4/16). Tennessee may become the only state in the country to require an inmate to be executed by the electric chair. The Senate and the House have passed bills allowing the state to use the electric chair if the Executive branch decides that drugs for lethal injection cannot be found. The House passed the bill on April 16 by a vote of 68-13. The bill has been sent to the governor.
NEW RESOURCE: New DPIC page providing each state's executions for each year since 1976.
Governors Halting Executions
In the past few years, the governors of Washington, Colorado, and Oregon have put a halt to executions in their states because of problems in the death penalty system. Below are some of the reasons they gave for for their actions.
"Equal justice under the law is the state's primary responsibility. And in death penalty cases, I'm not convinced equal justice is being served. The use of the death penalty in this state is unequally applied, sometimes dependent on the budget of the county where the crime occurred."
"There are too many flaws in the system. And when the ultimate decision is death there is too much at stake to accept an imperfect system. "
"When the majority of death penalty sentences lead to reversal, the entire system itself must be called into question."
Governor John Hickenlooper, Colorado, May 22, 2013
"If the State of Colorado is going to undertake the responsibility of executing a human being, the system must operate flawlessly. Colorado's system for capital punishment is not flawless."
"As one former Colorado judge said to us, '[The death penalty] is the result of happenstance, the district attorney's choice, the jurisdiction in which the case is filed, perhaps the race of economic circumstance of the defendant.'"
"The death penalty is not making our world a safer or better place."
Governor John Kitzhaber, Oregon, November 22, 2011
"I do not believe that those executions made us safer; and certainly they did not make us nobler as a society."
"The death penalty as practiced in Oregon is neither fair nor just; and it is not swift or certain. It is not applied equally to all."
"I am convinced we can find a better solution that keeps society safe, supports the victims of crime and their families and reflects Oregon values."