Lethal Injection and abolitionists

Death penalty opponents are making capital punishment more gruesome



Fortresses of solitude

Even more rare: journalist access to prison isolation units  http://www.cjr.org/cover_story/fortresses_of_solitude.php?page=all

Execution changes occur without public scrutiny, input

American-Statesman 19 Oct 2012


On July 9, when Texas switched from three drugs to just one to execute its most heinous criminals, Rick Thaler, the state’s No. 3 corrections official, signed off on the change without fanfare after consulting with prison officials in other states.

No public hearings. No legislative action. No public vote by the prison system’s nine-member governing board, which routinely votes on tweaks to prison policies, such as hazardous-duty pay bumps for individual employees and donations of vegetable
and Bibles.

Under a state law enacted years ago, Thaler — a former guard and warden with no medical training — alone decided the change on how Texas’ ultimate punishment is administered. His signature on the revised 10-page execution policy was all it took to upend almost three decades of precedent using three drugs in executions.

Some Inmates Forego Health Care to Avoid Higher Fees

Texas Tribune 16 Oct 2012

Before a recent hearing, attorney Michelle Smith learned that her client, a Texas Department of Criminal Justice inmate, would not be arriving at the courtroom.

Smith, who works on prisoners' rights with the Texas Civil Rights Project, later received word that the inmate, instead of attending his hearing, was lying in an emergency room. He had become sick, but decided not to see a doctor, because it would have cost him $100. In the past it had only cost $3, and he decided the higher price wasn’t worth his commissary money.  “He thought he just had the flu and wasn't willing to pay a $100 to get it treated,” Smith said. “It turned out he had pneumonia." As a result of HB26, which took effect last year, TDCJ prisoners who seek medical care now pay a fee of $100 once a year, whether they see a doctor once or multiple times. But if they don't see a doctor at all, they can avoid the fee altogether. Critics of the new law, though, say the fee has had unintended consequences — including situations where inmates are refusing treatment and a complicated administrative process for inmates who say they have been charged incorrectly. The fee, these critics say, hasn't even met financial expectations.

Cruel and Unusual US Sentencing Practices in a Global Context



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