August 20, 2017

Malaysia postpones execution of Filipino on death row

Gallows
The scheduled execution of a Filipino convicted of murder in Malaysia was postponed after the governor of Sabah heeded appeals from the Philippine government, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Saturday.

Ejah Bin Jaafar was supposed to be hanged on Friday.

"We would like to thank the governor of Sabah for responding to the repeated appeals of the Philippine government on behalf of the family of Mr. Jaafar," Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in the statement.

"The execution of Ejah Bin Jaafar was ordered postponed by Sabah Governor Tun Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Juhar Haji Mahiruddin following a last-minute appeal from the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur," the DFA said in a statement.

Jaafar's punishment may be reduced to life imprisonment instead of the death penalty, depending on the outcome of a case review.

"The Sabah Pardons Board will meet in December to review his case... The decision of the board will be final and executory without any further possibility of appeal," the DFA said.

The Sandakan High Court sentenced Jaafar with capital punishment in 2009 after it found the Filipino guilty of murder in September 2006.

The DFA has yet to give details on Jaafar's case including who he killed and why he committed the crime.

Foreign affairs spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar told Agence France-Presse that Jaafar and his family have lived in Sabah "for a long time," but gave no other details.

Officials from the Philippine Embassy in Malaysia have been "making appeals since 2015 for Malaysian authorities to spare the life of Mr. Jaafar and commute his sentence," the DFA said.

The Philippines has also appealed to Malaysia to commute the death sentences of nine of its nationals who were convicted of taking part in a 2013 attack on the Sabah district of Lahad Datu, which left scores of people dead.

Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos live in the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo island, many having been displaced by war and violence in the nearby southern Philippine region of Mindanao -- home to long-running Muslim rebellions.

Source: ABS-CBN News, August 19, 2017


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| August 20, 2017 |

Damien Echols says he suffered brain injuries on death row, his wife calls for end to executions

Damien Echols
Damien Echols
Six years ago Saturday (Aug. 19), Damien Echols woke for the last time on the wrong side of a set of jail bars. He spent 18 years in prison, convicted of the murders of three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis in 1993. He, along with Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr., denied any involvement and there were question about the evidence against them.

Echols told Talk Business & Politics the scars from his incarceration are still real. Each day he copes with physical and psychological damage he suffered while in prison.

“I spent 18 years in prison under abject conditions,” he said. “Ten years was spent in solitary torture. The brain injury I sustained will always plague me.”

The specific injury was not disclosed. Echols wife, Lorri Davis Echols told Talk Business & Politics her husband suffers from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He has had bouts of depression, and has spent years acclimating to life outside of prison.

“It’s been a roller coaster, but we’ve worked really hard to build a new life. It was and is like starting new,” she said.

The couple lives in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City and have traveled the world, giving lectures at universities and other venues about a broad range of subjects including false convictions, the death penalty, and Echols’ spiritual views. He wrote a New York best-selling autobiography, “Life after Death,” and he and his wife helped to produce the critically acclaimed Showtime documentary, West of Memphis. One place he visited early this spring terrified him – Arkansas.

In April eight men on Arkansas’ Death Row were slated for execution. Echols, had he not been released, would have been included. He journeyed to Little Rock with his friend, and avid supporter, actor Johnny Depp. The trip terrified him, and he suffered from a high level of anxiety while he was still in the Natural State.

“They tried to kill me,” he told TB&P at the time.

During the last five years there have been virtually no new leads discovered by Echols or the army of attorneys, private investigators, forensic scientists, and others who worked to secure his freedom.

THE WEST MEMPHIS KILLINGS


Echols, along with Baldwin, and Misskelley Jr., were convicted of the 1993 slayings of three West Memphis 8-year-olds, Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore. The boys were riding bikes in their West Memphis neighborhood when they vanished around sunset. Prosecutors claim the boys entered a patch of woods near their homes, dubbed “Robin Hood Hills,” by locals. The three boys were bludgeoned during an attack prosecutors claimed was inspired by Satanism or a belief in the occult.

One month later the three teens, all from Marion, were charged with the murders after Misskelley confessed to the crime and implicated the others. The confession contained inaccuracies including the time and place of the murders, the manner in which they were performed, and he told police two of the boys were sexually assaulted when autopsy results showed no sexual assault took place.

Despite the inaccuracies, and no physical of forensic evidence tying the teens to the crimes, two juries found them guilty. Echols was sentenced to death while the other two received life terms.

The three teens dubbed “The West Memphis Three” languished in obscurity until the 1996 documentary “Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills” was released by HBO. Doubts surfaced whether the teens, dubbed “The West Memphis Three” committed the crimes.

The documentary saved Echols life, he said during a 2010 interview. The circumstantial case and the lack of evidence raised doubts among a burgeoning support group that included Depp, Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder, Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines, and the director Sr. Peter Jackson. Millions of dollars was raised in an attempt the free the men.


NEW EVIDENCE, FALSE STATEMENTS


By 2011 Arkansas officials were under pressure to release the men. A new trial was about to be ordered in the case. New DNA evidence had been discovered implicating Stevie Branch’s stepfather, Terry Hobbs. A hair found in the ligatures that bound Michael Moore was a virtual genetic match for him, and a hair found on a tree stump next to where the bodies were dumped was a genetic match for his alibi witness at the time of the murders, David Jacoby. Hobbs and Jacoby have denied involvement in the murders.

One witness who testified during Misskelley’s trial, Victoria Hutcheson, signed a sworn affidavit saying she lied at the trial. During an interview in 2009 she told a TB&P reporter she was under pressure from police to provide evidence and was facing a credit card fraud charge. Her son, Aaron, was friends with the victims, and he claimed for a time to have witnessed the murders, but his statements proved false. She told jurors she attended a “witches gathering” or esbat with Echols and Misskelley. Testimony from another witness who claimed to have heard Echols and Baldwin talking about the murders at a softball game would have likely been disproved during a new trial, prosecutors admitted.

Prosecutor Scott Ellington agreed to release them under the terms of an Alford Plea. This unique legal mechanism allowed them to profess innocence while at the same time acknowledging the state might have enough evidence to convict them. It’s essentially a no contest plea. Ellington has said numerous times if new trials had been ordered, the men would have been freed because of the changing witness statements, new scientific evidence, and “stale evidence.”


‘ARKANSAS MAKES MISTAKES’


Echols has had no contact with officials who worked to imprison him, he said. Lorri Echols said the state of Arkansas is not only culpable in her husband’s wrongful incarceration, but it has been negligent in not finding and prosecuting the person or persons who killed the three boys. A new investigation needs to be opened, and the killer or killers need to be brought to justice, she said. Occasionally, Echols will encounter a troll on social media networks who believes he’s guilty, but most people he interacts with believe in his innocence, she said.

“In our day to day life in New York, people tend to have done their homework,” she said.

The couple has several creative projects they are working on. Echols is writing a book that will be published by Sounds True in 2018. Lorri will participate in an art show later this year in Chicago.

Arkansas officials announced Friday they plan to restart executions. Lorri Echols advises against it.

“Once again, Damien’s case is proof that Arkansas makes mistakes. How many innocent men have they executed? Is there anything else that needs to be said?”

Source: KATV Little Rock, August 19, 2017

Related content:


➤Devil's Knot (2013), by Atom Egoyan, Paul Harris Boardman (screenplay), Scott Derrickson (screenplay), with Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon, Alessandro Nivola. Based on the actual events of the West Memphis Three, where three young boys were savagely murdered in West Memphis, Arkansas in 1993. Spurred on by the demand from a grieving town, the local police act quickly to bring three "devil-worshipping" teenagers to trial. With their lives hanging in the balance, investigator Ron Lax is trying to find the truth between the town's need for justice and the guilt of the accused.






➤ Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996), by Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky, with Tony Brooks, Diana Davis, Terry Wood. A horrific triple child murder leads to an indictment and trial of three nonconformist boys based on questionable evidence.






➤ Rectify (TV Series, 2013) by Ray McKinnon, with Aden Young, Abigail Spencer, J. Smith-Cameron. Daniel Holden must put his life back together after serving 19 years on Georgia's Death Row before DNA evidence calls his conviction into question.







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| August 20, 2017 |

August 19, 2017

Vietnam upholds death sentences against shipping execs in major corruption case

Giang Kim Dat, Tran Van Liem and Tran Van Khuong VIETNAM
Giang Kim Dat, Tran Van Liem and Tran Van Khuong
But without a major overhaul of the country's public sector, stern sentencing may be only cosmetic, analysts say.

A court of appeals in Hanoi on Friday upheld the death sentences against two executives from the corruption-hit shipping industry after convicting them of pocketing nearly $12 million in deals made between 2006 and 2008, the latest punishment meted out as the ongoing crackdown on the public sector is widening.

At the first trial in February, Giang Kim Dat, the former sales manager of the troubled shipbuilder Vinashinlines, and Tran Van Liem, the company's former CEO, were sentenced to death for stealing more than VND260 billion ($11.65 million) from the company between 2006 and 2008.

In February, the firm’s former accountant, Tran Van Khuong, also got a life sentence for abetting the embezzlement, while Dat’s father Giang Van Hien received 12 years in prison for money laundering. Friday's appellate court upheld all these sentences.

According to the indictment, Dat siphoned off the money from 16 deals to buy or lease old vessels. He also advised Liem on how to buy and lease ships and colluded with foreign partners to rig prices for personal gain.

The investigation found that Dat paid Liem $150,000 and Khuong $110,000 in the scam. The rest of the embezzled money was transferred to multiple bank accounts in Hien’s name, who used it to buy houses and cars.

After his wrongdoings were discovered, Dat fled abroad and was arrested in July 2015 following an international arrest warrant.

Vinashinlines is a subsidiary of Vinashin, a shipping behemoth that racked up debt of $4.5 billion in 2010 before being restructured into the Shipbuilding Industry Corporation in 2013.

The Vinashinlines case is one of six serious corruption and economic mismanagement cases the government planned to bring to trial by the end of March 2017. The others involved violations at Agribank, OceanBank, VietinBank, the Vietnam Waterway Construction Corporation and a public development fund in the northern province of Bac Ninh.

However, authorities have failed to bring these cases to a close.

The trial took place in the context of Vietnam's widening crackdown on corruption and malfeasance at the much-cosseted yet inefficient public sector.

But analysts say infrequent but harsh punishment can only serve as a deterrent to contain large-scale corruption in the short run. They say without a major overhaul of the state sector, which has proved a drag on a once-thriving economy, corruption will remain endemic.

"Evidence from all over the world suggests the death penalty is not a deterrent to grand corruption," said Carl Thayer, a Vietnam expert at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

"The death penalty for high level corruption might win some publicity and approval from the public. But this feeling wears off when large scale corruption continues," Thayer said.

Source: VN Express, Viet Dung, August 19, 2017


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| August 19, 2017 |

MPs call for an end to Pakistan's blasphemy laws

Blasphemy laws, Pakistan
As Pakistan celebrates its 70th anniversary as an independent state, 24 British politicians, led by Labour MP Siobhan McDonagh, have written to the Pakistani government urging it to repeal its blasphemy laws, which have been used to persecute humanists and religious minorities. Humanists UK, which is part of the End Blasphemy Laws coalition, has welcomed the letter.

Siobhan McDonagh, also chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Ahmadiyya Muslims, stated that the Pakistani government has consistently committed discriminatory acts against minority religious groups, including ‘denying religious freedom, harassing, violently persecuting’, and sometimes, carrying out death sentences. The letter also states that the current use of these laws stands in ‘painful contrast’ to the vision of Pakistan’s founders.

Blasphemy laws were first introduced into what is now modern-day Pakistan in 1860 by the British, during the period of colonial rule in India. They continued to form part of Pakistan’s law after the creation of the country in 1947 following the partition of India, which was marked by widespread religious violence. Under the military government of General Zia-ul Haq in the 1980s these laws were expanded, culminating in 1986 when the death penalty was introduced as a punishment for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

Recent years have seen many humanists and others persecuted under the laws. Taimoor Raza was handed a death sentence in June for a Facebook post. In April, humanist Mashal Khan was murdered by a mob of fellow University students for alleged blasphemy. And in January, five bloggers were abducted by security services, only to reappear weeks later following accusations of torture.

Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented, ‘Laws against blasphemy are a denial of freedom of religion and belief and of freedom of speech and expression. For far too long, humanists and others have faced severe persecution in Pakistan, and we are delighted to see these politicians take a stand to try to force change.’

Source: Ekklesia, August 19, 2017


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| August 19, 2017 |

Florida: First Palm Beach County trial under new death penalty law

Jury box
Anngela Fader Sampler turned 40 this year, but the milestone was bittersweet — it’s now been 30 years since her mother was strangled to death near Lake Worth.

But the sad anniversary comes with a fresh hope for justice for Dana Fader’s loved ones because her alleged killer, Rodney Clark, finally is set to stand trial. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in a case that had gone cold for over two decades.

“We’re ready for some kind of closure,” said Sampler, a southeast Tennessee resident speaking also for her younger brothers, Kolby and Johnny, who were 5 and 3 when they lost their mom. “Whether it’s life in prison, death, just to know he’s going to pay for his crime.”

It’s the first death penalty case to be tried in Palm Beach County since Florida got a new death penalty law in March, and for more than three years before that. Unanimous jury votes are now required to impose a death sentence.

The case against the Mississippi man, 50, didn’t emerge until 2012, and that was six years after detectives reopened the long cold case hoping for a DNA match to evidence collected from the crime scene.

In late 2012, investigators using a national DNA database matched Clark’s DNA — he was by then a convicted sex offender — to a blood and semen stain found on Fader’s dress. Clark also “could not be excluded” from the DNA from the pillowcase, according to a report.

Finally, Clark’s palm print was matched to one taken from the outside right rear window of Fader’s sedan.

Located in Jackson, Miss., Clark told detectives he lived in Palm Beach County in 1987 but denied ever knowing or coming in contact with Fader, having sexual relations with her or being in her car. 

Clark was arrested on the murder charge and extradited to South Florida in 2013.

Seven days of jury selection wrapped up Friday afternoon, and opening statements are set for 9 a.m. Monday. Circuit Judge Charles Burton told the panel of a dozen jurors and two alternates to expect the trial to take two weeks.

Before they reach a potential sentencing phase, prosecutors Aleathea McRoberts and Reid Scott first need to obtain a first-degree murder conviction of Clark.

➤ Click here to read the full article

Source: Sun Sentinel, Marc Freeman, August 18, 2017


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| August 19, 2017 |

Deaths Rise Among Indonesian Drug Dealers Amid Fears of Philippines-Style Campaign

President Rodrigo Duterte (left) and President Joko Widodo
President Rodrigo Duterte (left) and President Joko Widodo
Jakarta. The number of suspected drug dealers killed by Indonesian police has more than tripled so far this year from the whole of 2016, activists said on Wednesday (16/08), raising concerns the country may be headed towards a bloody Philippines-style war on narcotics.

At least 60 suspected dealers have died so far this year, up from last year's 18, Amnesty International said.

"While Indonesian authorities have a duty to respond to increasing rates of drug use in the country, shooting people on sight is never a solution," said Usman Hamid, director of Amnesty International Indonesia.

The rights group added that all the deaths involved police allegedly acting in self-defense or because the suspects resisted arrest, but that no independent investigations had been conducted.

A spokesman for the national narcotics agency said officers had to prioritize their own safety and those of others if there was resistance from drug dealers.

"If firearms are used, it's because of the consideration of personal safety of the officers and others at the scene," Sulistiandriatmoko said in a text message.

He declined to comment on the number of deaths.

Authorities estimate there are around 6.4 million drug users in the country of 250 million people, and the use of crystal methamphetamine has soared in recent years.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has called for a "merciless" crackdown on the narcotics trade, which he believes has reached full-blown emergency status.

"We have firmly declared a war against drug dealers who are ruining the future of our younger generation," Jokowi said on Wednesday in a state of the nation speech marking the 72nd anniversary of independence from Dutch colonialists.

Jokowi has also told law enforcement officers to shoot drug traffickers if they resisted arrest.

The chief of anti-narcotics police, Budi Waseso, told Reuters last month that Indonesia would not replicate the bloody war on drugs in the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte, though he praised its aims.

More than 8,000 people have died in the Philippines' war on drugs since Duterte took office last year, a third in raids and sting operations by police who say they acted in self-defence.

Duterte has refused to back down despite overwhelming international criticism.

Source: The Jakarta Globe, Reuters, August 15, 2017


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| August 19, 2017 |

Hogan's Katyal Aims to End the Death Penalty in Arizona SCOTUS Case

The U.S. Supreme Court
Former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal is hoping that the time is finally right for the U.S. Supreme Court to declare the death penalty unconstitutional again.

Katyal, now a Hogan Lovells partner in Washington, filed a certiorari petition with the court on Monday in an Arizona death-row case, asking the court to decide whether "the death penalty in and of itself violates the Eighth Amendment, in light of contemporary standards of decency."

If the court grants the case, it will add to the high court's blockbuster docket of upcoming cases for the fall term, on issues ranging from political gerrymandering to President Donald Trump's immigration travel ban.

The Arizona case is titled Hidalgo v. Arizona. The main flaw in the Arizona death-penalty statute, Katyal wrote, is that so-called "aggravating factors" have been added over the years to the point where 99 percent of those who commit first-degree murders are eligible to be executed.

"The Arizona death penalty statute is deeply unconstitutional, as it does not in practice narrow who is subject to the death penalty," Katyal said, adding that "the death penalty as a whole, after decades of experience, is flatly unconstitutional as well."

One of Katyal's arguments is that with the sharp drop in death sentences and executions nationwide, capital punishment has become "a rare and freakish punishment" that the Eighth Amendment forbids.

The brief notes that only 31 people were sentenced to death last year, down 90 percent from 20 years before.

Citing Gregg v. Georgia, the 1976 Supreme Court decision that reinstated the death penalty after it was suspended in 1972, Katyal wrote that "Gregg’s hope that the punishment of death could be administered rationally and in accord with legitimate penological purposes has proved to be empty, a fatal mistake which this court must now correct."

➤ Click here to read the full article

Source: The National Law Journal, Tony Mauro, August 15, 2017


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| August 19, 2017 |

August 18, 2017

Secret sedative: How Missouri uses pentobarbital in executions

Pentobarbital
Missouri will use 2 of its 34 vials of the sedative pentobarbital on Tuesday when it executes Marcellus Williams, who was convicted in the 1998 killing of Felicia Gayle, former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter.

The state has enough pentobarbital for 17 executions, Williams' included, according to a document obtained by St. Louis Public Radio. No one except the state of Missouri knows where the stockpile comes from, despite lawsuits from inmates and media outlets.

But there is 1 sure thing, according to 2 people who've witnessed executions in Missouri and Georgia: Pentobarbital is a potent means of death.

The FDA-approved manufacturer of the drug will not sell directly to any state for use in an execution and has made it clear it doesn't want 3rd-party distributors to do so. Any compounding pharmacy that makes small, quick-to-expire batches is shielded from public knowledge, too.

St. Louis Public Radio's Erica Hunzinger explains how pentobarbital works and why Missouri's source is still a secret 4 years after the state began using it in executions.

Experts argue that such secrecy makes it difficult to know whether Missouri's capital punishment process is constitutional.

"With a policy that is as important as the death penalty, and that has results that are so final and irreversible, it's important that the policy be carried out in the light of day," said Rob Dunham, the executive director of the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center.

What is pentobarbital?


Simply, pentobarbital is "a drug that slows down the electrical activity of the brain and nerve cells," according to Dr. Aarti Sarwal, a neurologist and the medical director of the critical care unit at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Pentobarbital is used in humans and animals. In a veterinary setting, it's mostly for euthanasia, Dr. John Dodam, a professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia's veterinary school, said. He noted the pentobarbital used in that situation is for animals only and has species-specific versions of the drug.

For humans, it's mostly used in operating rooms and intensive care units to treat uncontrolled seizures and brain swelling. When injected, the drug goes to the heart and is pumped throughout the body.

Sarwal noted: "It's unique in a manner that it reaches the brain tissue very efficiently."

She described how pentobarbital affects a body when used in operating rooms and ICUs to treat uncontrolled seizures and brain swelling. What follows does not address executions.

"It slows down the activity in the brain - it essentially puts you to sleep - and, as the doses go higher, into almost a state of coma to the point of completely shutting down. (The) rest of the body is controlled by nerve cells, so similar effects happen there ... the nerves that affect your heart muscles ... get slowed down, so the heart muscles will start beating slower and slower, essentially to the point of lowering your blood pressure. ...

"Same happens for breathing: The brain centers that regulate your breathing, as well as the nerve cells that help the breathing muscles work, get slowed down. ... It also has several other effects, like slowing down your stomach activity and pretty much any other activity in the body that's controlled by nerve cells," she said.

And it isn't a drug that just any doctor can prescribe, Sarwal cautioned.

"Pentobarbital is a drug that has to be given by qualified providers who are specifically trained to monitor the dosing and side effects ... So, this is not part of typical medical school training. (Doctors) do get trained in understanding the side effects but it does require special training, and the use of pentobarbital is restricted to specific professions," she said.

Why executions?


Ohio was the 1st state to use a single-drug pentobarbital protocol in executions in 2011 (it changed to a two-drug protocol a couple of years later when pentobarbital became tougher to purchase). Texas followed in 2012, with Georgia and Missouri joining in 2013 and Tennessee in 2015.

Other drugs, mostly used in 2- or 3-drug protocols, have led to botched executions, such as the sedative midazolam in Oklahoma and Ohio. That's not the case with pentobarbital, though that's not to say there haven't been problems.

In both Georgia and Texas, placing IVs in the arms of inmates who had been heavy drug users caused some difficulty. Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Rhonda Cook said in the case of one execution, the team "couldn't get a vein, and what they had to do is what they call a 'cut down' where they inserted the IV at the base of his neck."

And in 2015, Georgia had to cancel a scheduled execution because the pentobarbital was stored at too cold of a temperature.

"And what happened was the solids that are combined with the liquid to create pentobarbital separated. So there were clumps in the containers that had the pentobarbital," Cook said.

Missouri's protocol calls for inmates to be injected with 5 grams of pentobarbital. That makes for a quick, lethal dose. Witnesses say it looks like little more than someone falling asleep.

"There is seldom anything for us to really talk about except to say the person was executed, might have gasped a couple of times and then became silent and was pronounced dead a few minutes later. ... There's nothing especially dramatic about it. It's very clinical," according to Bob Priddy, the former news director of the statewide radio network Missourinet.

He's witnessed 22 executions in Missouri, including 2 pentobarbital-only ones, and said, "I've never seen any discomfort. In fact ... the media witnesses get a call from the attorney general's office usually the day or so after the execution asking if we had seen any signs of discomfort or any signs of pain or any struggles or anything like that. And the answer that I've always given is 'No. The person just went to sleep.'"

Missourinet's Bob Priddy describes state's execution chamber, what witnesses can see and the chain of events when an inmate is put to death.

Missouri's protocol calls for the medical personnel on the execution team to check whether a prisoner is dead after "a sufficient amount of time." When asked for an estimate of how long that is, Department of Corrections spokesman David Owen said it's about 5 minutes, which Priddy corroborated.

Cook has seen 26 executions in Georgia, many of them with the pentobarbital protocol. She said that witnesses can see inmates' faces.

"You can watch his breathing. Every once in a while you can hear a sound like they might blow, exhale tremendously," she said. "But mostly you can't hear what's going on in the execution chamber."

She continued to describe what happens as the execution begins: "What I've seen on occasion is the inmate will look at one of the arms, like he felt the drugs moving through. ... You can tell it's happening because they will struggle to keep their eyes open. The last one that I saw, he insisted on smiling as much as he could. He would smile and then the smile would drift away and he would, like, shake himself awake and smile again.

"But what happens is you just see them go to sleep. And you can see their chest moving, and then after a while you no longer see their chest moving. ... It's very respectful, as much as it can be. But it's very quiet," she said.

Rhonda Cook, a reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, talks about Georgia's execution process and what a witness sees during the capital punishment process.

Sourcing pentobarbital


There's a lot at stake with a pentobarbital-only protocol, according to Megan McCracken, an attorney with the Death Penalty Clinic at the University of California-Berkeley law school. She's worked on capital punishment cases since 2003.

One factor, she said, is whether the execution will be free of cruel and unusual punishment as the U.S. Constitution requires. She argued that the public needs to know because it's a "simple question of good government and whether or not the state is disclosing relevant information about its executions or concealing that information."

Pentobarbital is made by 1 of 2 sources: A compounding pharmacy or an FDA-approved manufacturer.

Akorn is the only manufactured-pentobarbital supplier in the U.S. and has said it will not sell to states that use the drug in their executions, and it has asked 3rd-party suppliers to follow suit. A Buzzfeed report in January by former St. Louis Public Radio reporter Chris McDaniel showed that, at some point, Missouri purchased manufactured pentobarbital, but the timing and the amount weren't clear in the now-sealed court documents.

Compounding pharmacies, according to Dunham with the Death Penalty Information Center, are "state regulated and their quality - while they serve an important purpose - their quality varies greatly."

Georgia and Texas are both transparent about obtaining their pentobarbital from compounding pharmacies, although the names of those pharmacies are state secrets. Dunham said that's because the pharmacies don't want people to know they make the drugs so they don't lose business.

The pentobarbital made at compounding pharmacies is "typically produced in anticipation of a pending execution," because it's shelf life is "weeks or months. You're not talking years," Dunham said.

On the other hand, manufactured pentobarbital, known generically as nembutal, is a different story, McCracken said.

"... (W)hat we know is that back when nembutal was available to departments of correction, the expiration date was generally in the range of 2 to 2 1/2 years from the time of purchase," she said.

It's unclear whether Missouri's 34 vials of pentobarbital are manufactured or compounded. The Missouri Department of Corrections did not provide, as asked for in the public records request, expiration dates for the vials, saying the records are closed under state statutes.

Source: KBIA News, August 18, 2017


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| August 18, 2017 |

Bali 9 Australian Renae Lawrence won’t get out next year, even with remission

Renae Lawrence
Renae Lawrence
Renae Lawrence, a member of the infamous Australian smuggling group the Bali Nine, has gotten six months knocked off her prison sentence, but that doesn’t mean she’ll get out next year, says the woman’s father.

Lawrence, who’s currently serving out her sentence in Bali’s remote Bangli prison, received a remission for good behavior in concurrence with Indonesian’s Independence Day. It is customary for the country to reduce sentences ever so slightly during special holidays for well-behaved Indonesian and foreign prisoners alike.

While it was reported that Lawrence could see a release date of next year if her recommendation for a remission went through, that won’t be the case for the 39-year-old, because she’s got a “subsidiary sentence”: an extra six months on top of her sentence that she must serve unless she pays a $100,000 fee.

“She won’t be getting out when they say she’s getting out because there’s a $100,000 fine she’s got to pay and we can’t pay that – we haven’t got it,” her father, Rob Lawrence told Australia’s 9 Network.

“She’s going to have to do the extra time to cut it out.”

Upon her ultimate release, Lawrence will keep under the radar says her father, unlike former fellow Australian inmate, Schapelle Corby who has become an Instagram sensation since being deported back to Oz from Bali in May, post-parole.

“She just wants to come home and get on with her life. She doesn’t want it to be like the Corbys,” Rob Lawrence said.

Lawrence was handed 20 years behind bars for her role in a 2004 heroin smuggling operation involving nine Australians called the Bali Nine. 

The group’s ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed by firing squad in April 2015.

Since being locked up, she has reportedly already gotten reductions of more than five years for good behavior.

Source: Coconuts Jakarta, August 18, 2017


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| August 18, 2017 |
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