death penalty

A federal judge in Ohio has rejected the state's three-drug lethal injection protocol on the grounds that one of the drugs, the sedative midazolam, is not sufficiently humane in its effects.

The drug has been used during multiple botched executions in Arizona, Ohio, Oklahoma and Alabama, as The Two-Way has reported.

In 2016, 30 people were sentenced to death in America, and 20 people were executed.

Those numbers are the lowest in decades, according to a report by the Death Penalty Information Center, which collects data on capital punishment in the United States, and advocates against the death penalty.

The 2016 numbers fit with a multi-decade trend. Death sentences and executions have been declining steadily since the mid-1990s.

The number of men and women currently waiting on Florida's death row is 384. Nearly all of them live just outside a town called Raiford, Fla.

But those men and women — the second largest death row population in the country — remain in limbo nearly a year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that death penalties require a unanimous jury verdict. What's in question is how that ruling will apply to existing convictions.

Updated at 10:45 a.m. ET on Dec. 12

An Alabama man convicted of murdering a convenience store clerk in 1994 was put to death by lethal injection on Thursday night, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to stay the execution and amid ongoing legal challenges to the state's lethal injection protocol.

Ronald Bert Smith Jr. had been on Alabama's death row since 1995, when he was convicted of murdering Casey Wilson, a convenience store clerk, during a robbery.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

Oklahoma's execution practices were under the national spotlight when the 2015 legislative session began. A few weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case challenging the state’s three-drug lethal injection cocktail, Oklahoma state Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, introduced Senate Joint Resolution 31.

'A necessary amendment'

More than five months after its last execution, Texas is set to execute Barney Ronald Fuller Jr., who was convicted of killing two of his neighbors.

After an almost three-year, defacto moratorium, Ohio plans to resume executions in the new year, the state's Department of Rehabilitation and Correction says.

Ohio has not put anyone to death since executing convicted killer and rapist Dennis McGuire in 2014. The state used a never-before-used combination of two drugs to execute McGuire, and it took him more than 20 minutes to die.

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A proposal to ask Oklahoma voters to enshrine the death penalty in the state's nearly 100-year-old constitution sailed easily through the Legislature, but now is facing opposition from groups on opposite ends of the political spectrum.

In addition to various faith and civil rights organizations that traditionally oppose capital punishment, several conservative groups and the newly recognized Oklahoma Libertarian Party also are joining the fight against State Question 776.

The Delaware Supreme Court has decided that the state's death penalty law violates the Sixth Amendment.

The court was responding to a U.S. Supreme Court decision from a case in January — Hurst v. Florida — that found that Florida's death penalty law violated the Constitution because it gave judges — not juries — ultimate power to impose the death penalty.

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