death penalty

Buzzfeed reports that the Oklahoma attorney general’s office misrepresented the facts behind a key argument about the availability of certain execution drugs in its filings at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The death penalty is legal in more than 30 states, but the long-controversial practice has come under renewed scrutiny after a series of botched executions in several states last year.

Opponents of capital punishment argue that the death penalty undermines the fair administration of justice, as wealth, geography, race and quality of legal representation all come into play, with uneven results.

Utah's Senate has approved a measure that would allow a firing squad to carry out the death penalty if the drug to carry out lethal injections is unavailable.

The vote was 18-10, and it's unclear if Republican Gov. Gary Herbert will sign the measure, which would make Utah the only state in the nation to allow firing squads, into law. The state abandoned the practice a little more than a decade ago.

Executions are again on hold in Oklahoma after the U.S. Supreme Court granted the state's request to postpone lethal injections while justices review a challenge over the use of a particular sedative.

The court on Wednesday ordered Oklahoma to halt lethal injections after both the state and the lawyers for three inmates who faced execution between now and March requested the temporary stay.

The justices agreed Friday to consider the challenge to the use of the sedative midazolam, which has been used in problematic executions in Arizona, Ohio and Oklahoma.

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed today to review Oklahoma's method of execution by lethal injection. The justices agreed to hear the Oklahoma case a week after refusing to halt another execution that used the same drug formula.

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Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

This past year, the number of inmates executed in America was the lowest in two decades at 35, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

There was a significant drop in the number of executions and death penalty sentences in 2014, a new report by the Death Penalty Information Center finds.

The group's year-end accounting finds that:

-- States conducted 35 executions in 2014 — the lowest since 1994.

-- And the justice system sentenced 72 people to death — the lowest number in 40 years.

Changes are coming to the way Oklahoma executes inmates.

The Journal Record’s Marie Price breaks down the new procedures in this week’s 23rd & Lincoln.


Oklahoma legislators are exploring the option of executing condemned inmates with nitrogen gas.

A formal interim study requested by Oklahoma City Republican Mike Christian was held Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee.

Christian is a staunch supporter of the death penalty who says he plans to draft a bill on the matter for next year's Legislature, which begins in February.

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