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Capital Punishment in the United States Explained

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In our Explainer series, Fair Punishment Project lawyers help unpackage some of the most complicated issues in the criminal justice system. We break down the problems behind the headlines - like bail, civil asset forfeiture, or the Brady doctrine - so that everyone can understand them. Wherever possible, we try to utilize the stories of those affected by the criminal justice system to show how these laws and principles should work, and how they often fail. We will update our Explainers monthly to keep them current. Read our updated explainer here.
To beat the clock on the expiration of its lethal injection drug supply, this past April, Arkansas tried to execute 8 men over 1 days. The stories told in frantic legal filings and clemency petitions revealed a deeply disturbing picture. Ledell Lee may have had an intellectual disability that rendered him constitutionally ineligible for the death penalty, but he had a spate of bad lawyers who failed to timely present evidence of this claim -…

Iraq sentences German woman to death over ISIS involvement

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A court in Iraq has sentenced a German woman to death after finding her guilty of belonging to the Islamic State (IS) group.
She was sentenced for providing logistical support and taking part in attacks on Iraqi security forces.
The woman, who has not been named but is said to be of Moroccan descent, was captured during the battle for Mosul last year.
Thousands of foreigners have been fighting for IS in Iraq and Syria.
The court said she travelled from Germany to Iraq to join IS with two daughters, who married members of the jihadist group.
She is thought to be the first foreign woman to be sentenced to death in Iraq for joining the group, reports say.
Another German female, teenager Linda Wenzel, was arrested in Mosul at the same time for belonging to IS.
Thousands of suspected IS members have been rounded up and imprisoned - several mass executions have already taken place.
Human rights groups have expressed strong concern about the judicial process.
The spokesman of the Supreme Ju…

20 January 1942: The Wannsee Conference or the so-called "Final Solution to the Jewish Question"

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On 20 January 1942 Reinhard Heydrich, the Head of the Reich Security Main Office, chaired a meeting of 15 high-ranking civil servants and SS officers in a villa at Großer Wannsee 56/58.

The topic of the conference was technical, logistic and legal implementation of the so-called "Final Solution to the Jewish Question", which was a euphemism for the planned mass extermination of Jews.
Exactly a year after this conference, on 20 January 1943, a transport of 748 Jews arrived to Auschwitz from the Westerbork camp in occupied Netherlands – 315 men and boys and 433 women and girls.

After the selection 10 men and 25 women were registered in the camp.

The remaining 713 people were killed in the gas chambers.

On the same day a transport of around 2,000 Jews from the ghetto in Grodno arrived to the camp. After the selection 155 men and 101 women were registered.

The remaining group, probably 1,744 people, were killed in the gas chambers.
The Wannsee Conference
The following is excerp…

Tennessee warned about use of controversial drug combination for lethal injections

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The drugs are supposed to put a death row inmate to sleep before stopping the inmate's lungs and heart. 
However, controversies around the country show a three-drug combination Tennessee is prepared to use as it resumes executions in 2018 may leave witnesses scarred and death row offenders in pain — and alive. 
Documents obtained by the USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee show the state has a new protocol for what drugs it will use to put inmates to death. A supplier of those drugs also warned the state they may not actually stop inmates from feeling pain before they die, according to emails also obtained.
The issues already prompted a legal challenge and will likely spur death penalty critics to characterize use of the drugs as unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment. 
More: Executions set to resume in Tennessee: Three death row inmates scheduled to die
Lethal injection is the primary means of carrying out the death penalty in Tennessee, although the electric chair is also legal. T…

Iran: Execution of 5 Young Prisoners and Hand Amputation

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During the nationwide uprising of the Iranian people against the detested rule of Velayat-e faqih, the regime's judiciary executed 5 young prisoners from January 15 to 17. 
On January 17, a brutal sentence to amputate a young man's hand for stealing several sheeps was carried out in Mashhad Prison. 
2 prisoners of 30 and 33 years old were hanged on January 17, 2018 in the Karaj Central Prison. 
The day before, 2 other young people who 19 and 20 at the time of their arrest were executed in Mashhad. 
On Monday, January 15, a 27-year-old prisoner was hanged in Babol prison. 
Meanwhile, Abolfazl Chezani, who was arrested at age 15, is now on the verge of execution in Qom prison after serving 4 years of imprisonment. 
The purpose of these executions is to exacerbate the atmosphere of intimidation of young people who have suffered from oppression, poverty and unemployment, and who in recent weeks have shaken the pillars of the clerical regime with their uprising. 
The res…

Gaza family executes own member for collaborating with Israel

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Gazan family says it killed a relative after being told by Hamas he had helped Israel track down and kill 3 senior Hamas members.
A Gazan family said on Friday it had killed 1 of its relatives, claiming he had helped Israel track down and kill 3 senior Hamas terrorists, including 1 of the man's own kinsmen.
In a statement quoted by Yediot Aharonot, the family of Ahmed Barhoum said it had shot him in the city of Rafah after they were told by Hamas that he had provided information to Israel.
This, the statement said, guided an Israeli air strike during the 2014 Gaza war that targeted the Hamas terrorists.
"In light of our religious and moral commitment we have executed the collaborator Ahmed Barhoum after he was handed over by the resistance factions," the statement said.
The family said they had listened to their relative's confession and saw the evidence against him. The Barhoums are one of Rafah's largest families and well known for their closeness to Palestinia…

Uganda: President's misguided death penalty vow threatens a decade of progress

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Responding to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's threat to "hang" death row prisoners as a crime deterrent after more than a decade without an execution in the country, Amnesty International's Death Penalty Adviser Oluwatosin Popola said:
"President Museveni's threat to resume executions to 'prevent crime' is misguided since there is no credible evidence that the death penalty is a deterrent to crime. Rather, it is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and a violation of the right to life.
"While the backlog of criminal cases in Uganda is something that needs to be addressed and expedited, resorting to the death penalty as some kind of 'quick-fix' is not the answer.
"Uganda's refusal to carry out executions in recent years has been a credit to President Museveni, but resuming them now would destroy more than a decade of progress, not to mention buck the global trend towards abolition.
"Rather than talking o…

Japan: Aum trials seen near completion as top court upholds life term for Katuya Takahashi

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With the conclusion of all of the trials, judicial authorities will likely shift their focus to the possible execution of Aum founder Shoko Asahara
The trials related to Aum Shinrikyo, the doomsday cult that executed the deadly sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system in 1995, are close to ending after the Supreme Court rejected an appeal by a former cultist.
The top court's decision dated Thursday upheld a high court's life sentence on Katsuya Takahashi, 59, who was accused of murder in the sarin attack. He was the last of the former members still being tried.
With the conclusion of all of the trials, judicial authorities will likely shift their focus to the possible execution of Aum founder Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto. Asahara was given the death penalty for masterminding the 1995 attack, among other charges.
In connection with the sarin attack and other crimes, death sentences have been finalized for 13 members of the cult, while life sentences have be…

Japan: Disclosed files fail to show why convicts chosen for execution

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The Justice Ministry has put an end to its longtime policy of avoiding executions of death-row inmates while they are calling for a retrial, but who is chosen to be hanged is still shrouded in secrecy.
The hanging of a prisoner seeking a retrial requires cautious judgment, yet the Justice Ministry ordered the execution of 3 of them in 2017.
The 1st was 1 of 2 men hanged in July, marking the 1st time in 17 years that a prisoner seeking a retrial was executed.
Then, in December, another 2 men hoping for a retrial went to the gallows.
The Justice Ministry has failed to disclose the reasons the 2 inmates were selected for execution in July 2017.
Most of the pages of relevant documents obtained from the Justice Ministry by The Asahi Shimbun last year under the freedom of information law were blacked out.
The Asahi Shimbun has filed requests for but has yet to receive the documents regarding the December executions.
In addition, the death of 1 of the men in December marked the 1st executio…

Nebraska notifies death row inmate Carey Dean Moore of drugs it plans to use in execution

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LINCOLN — Nebraska prison officials have notified another death row inmate they intend to carry out his execution using an untried combination of lethal drugs.
The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services said Friday it provided the execution notice to Carey Dean Moore, who shot and killed Omaha cabdrivers Reuel Van Ness and Maynard Helgeland in the summer of 1979.
The letter from Scott Frakes, the department’s director, informed Moore that it intends to use the following drugs in sequence: diazepam, fentanyl citrate, cisatracurium besylate and potassium chloride. They are the same drugs Frakes has said were obtained before a similar notice was given to death row inmate Jose Sandoval in November.
The state’s execution protocol requires inmates to be given notice of the drug at least 60 days before a death warrant is requested to carry out a lethal injection.
Attorney General Doug Peterson has not yet asked the Nebraska Supreme Court to issue a death warrant for Sandoval.
The four…