National Catholic journals unite: "It is time for our nation to embody its commitment to the right to life by abolishing the death penalty once and for all."
Utah's House of Representatives approved bringing back firing squads to carry out state executions on Friday, leaving the legislation in the hands of the GOP-controlled Senate.
The U.S. Supreme Court's decision to review the use of lethal injections in carrying out executions is a welcome move, said the chairmen of two U.S. bishops' committees.
The court said Jan. 23 it will review the drug protocols of lethal-injection executions in the state of Oklahoma and consider whether such procedures violate the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
"I welcome the court's decision to review this cruel practice," said Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.
Driven in part by continuing legal disputes related to lethal injection drugs and state moratoriums on the death penalty, the 35 people executed in the U.S. this year marks the fewest in two decades, according to a year-end report by the Death Penalty Information Center.
The center, which opposes capital punishment, also found that the 72 death sentences issued in 2014 represents the fewest in 40 years.
The death penalty "offends my faith," one pastor said. "It doesn't deter crime, and it puts vengeance ahead of justice. It is an international embarrassment.
Midazolam has been implicated in botched executions in three states, and lawyers have filed a petition to stop a convicted murderer's execution in fear the drug will be used.
"We have to stop executions until there's been a full investigation, independent investigation and full transparency," one lawyer said.
The execution of Clayton Lockett did not go off without a hitch Tuesday night.
Instead of death by lethal injection, the Oklahoman inmate died of a heart attack, with the complication attributed to vein failure, the Associated Press reported. The state corrections department was using a new three-drug combination, and the botched execution led them to postpone the execution of Charles F. Warner, also scheduled for Tuesday night, for two weeks.
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Prison guards meet in the desert to hand off chemicals for executions. A corrections boss loaded with cash travels to a pharmacy in another state to buy lethal sedatives. States across the country refuse to identify the drugs they use to put the condemned to death.
This is the curious state of capital punishment in America today.