capital punishment

Federal Government Resumes Capital Punishment Almost 20 Year Later

By Peek & Toland on October 10, 2019

The Department of Justice recently issued a press release announcing that the federal government would be resuming capital punishment after a lapse of almost two decades. Attorney General William Barr formally directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to adopt a proposed addendum to the Federal Execution Protocol, which will allow the BOP to carry out executions. Barr also specifically directed the Acting Director of the BOP to schedule the executions of five death-row inmates who have been convicted of murdering, torturing, or raping children and elderly individuals. The executions are scheduled to take place at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana beginning in December 2019 and running through January 2020.

The proposed addendum would replace the previously used three-drug execution procedure with a single drug, pentobarbital. The federal government has made this change because 14 states have successfully used this drug in executions since 2010. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld use of the drug as consistent with the Eighth Amendment, which outlaws cruel and unusual punishment. One of the major problems with the previous three-drug cocktail was a severe shortage of one of the drugs necessary for the cocktail to be effective.

Federal Government Resumes Capital Punishment Almost 20 Year Later

Federal executions have been rare. The federal government carried out only three executions between 1998 and 2018, including the Oklahoma City federal building bomber Timothy McVeigh. Former President Obama had initiated a review of federal execution procedures in 2014 after a botched execution in Oklahoma. The Department of Justice, however, states that it has completed its review.

The decision of the federal government to proceed with executions is in opposition to the increasing trend of states backing off the death penalty. At five states have abolished the death penalty in recent years, and courts in two other states have ruled that state death penalty laws are unconstitutional. Some states, however, still aggressively pursue the death penalty, including the State of Texas.

Peek & Toland dedicates a large part of its practice to assisting individuals in resolving their criminal charges. We know that criminal proceedings can be intimidating and overwhelming for those who are facing potential penalties for criminal charges. We will work with you to achieve the most favorable outcome possible in your situation. Call our office today and set up a consultation with our skilled criminal defense attorneys today.

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Texas Sues the Federal Government over Delay in Execution Drugs

By Peek & Toland on June 1, 2017

The number of executions in Texas has fallen in recent years. One of the issues facing the state is a shortage of execution drugs.

Now Texas is suing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It says the federal agency caused a months-long delay in access to the drugs the state uses in lethal injections of death row prisoners.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said his office filed a lawsuit to gain access to the execution drugs, reported The Hill.

The drugs in question are hundreds of doses of thiopental sodium. The FDA intercepted the drugs more than 17 months ago. At the time, the FDA claimed the drug was not approved for use on humans.

Lawsuit is filed over execution drugs

After more than a year, the FDA is yet to issue a final decision on whether the buying by Texas of the thiopental sodium was allowed under a law enforcement exemption for new drug approvals. Paxton complains the delay has gone on for too long. He said:

“There are only two reasons why the FDA would take 17 months to make a final decision on Texas’s importation of thiopental sodium: gross incompetence or willful obstruction.”

Texas is not alone in experiencing problems obtaining a steady and reliable supply of execution drugs.

The decision of the European Union to ban the export of execution drugs in 2011, hit American states that use lethal injection. U.S. states have experimented with alternatives, sometimes with horrific consequences.

In one case in Oklahoma, a death row inmate was given the wrong drug and took 18 minutes to die.

An overdose of thiopental sodium, a barbiturate, paralyzes muscles and stops the heart beating. It had once been used as part of a three-drug cocktail to carry out executions, but states have increasingly used the drug alone as the other two elements have become unavailable.

If you are facing a murder charge you are more likely to be executed in Texas than anywhere else in the country. Call our experienced Austin criminal defense lawyers to fight the charges against you at (512) 474-4445.

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