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Federal Execution Spree Is Not About Trump. It’s About…

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Trump’s Execution Spree Is Not About Him. It’s About Us.

Photo caption: A sign is displayed outside the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Ind., on Aug. 28, 2020. Michael Conroy/AP. Article by Liliana Segura. The Intercept – January 10, 2021.

One week before her client was scheduled to die in the federal execution chamber, capital defense attorney Kelley Henry shared a photograph with reporters assembled on a Zoom call. It showed an old trailer in a grassy field in Osage, Oklahoma. This was the spot where her client Lisa Montgomery was repeatedly raped as a child. […]

In the meantime, the U.S. Supreme Court made it virtually impossible to challenge lethal injection even as states adopted hasty new formulas, swapping out substances with little notion as to whether they would work as intended. In 2015, the justices upheld a three-drug protocol using midazolam despite warnings from anesthesiologists that the drug, a sedative, did not have the properties needed to render a person insensate for the purpose of execution. The ruling also upheld the requirement that a condemned person who wished to challenge such a protocol had to propose a “known and available alternative” way to die.

In 2017, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson decided that the state needed to use up its supply of midazolam before it expired. Prosecutors and prison officials worked overtime to execute eight people in 11 days, with some scheduled to die on the same night. Litigation over the state’s protocol raised red flags. In a hearing prior to the first executions, Wendy Kelly, then head of the Arkansas Department of Corrections, testified that a different drug in the state’s three-drug protocol had been “donated” to her after she explained the payment process to the anonymous supplier. According to the Arkansas Times, “the supplier was worried about his or her identity being revealed to the public through the payment process.” [..]

In the next day or two, if they have not already, the Bureau of Prisons will hand Lisa Montgomery over to the U.S. Marshals, who will fly her to Terre Haute for her execution. Her lawyers will not be told in advance. Nor is it clear how much of an understanding Montgomery will have of her fate. Attorneys have said she has decompensated in recent months. […]

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