The death penalty is a grim topic. It's taking a forceful act of my will to set me to the task of writing about it. But a few events have converged, one involving me slightly, and I want to tell you.
Those on both sides of the debate agree that Glossip v. Gross transcended the specific issue of the death penalty indirectly.
In a 5-4 ruling, the court said the use of midazolam in executions does not violate the ban on "cruel and unusual punishment."
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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.