How to Fix the Death Penalty


States that rely lethal injections of drug cocktails for execution should instead use a deadly dose of a single anesthetic or barbiturate, according to a comprehensive review of the death penalty released by The Constitution Project.

A bipartisan panel of criminal justice experts — including those with experience as judges, prosecutors, defenders, law enforcement officers, policymakers, victim advocates and scholars — examined a host of issues related to the death penalty and today released 39 recommendations for improving its administration.

They noted that complex drug cocktails can easily be miscalculated.

The 217 page report comes just eight days after an untested three-drug cocktail caused the execution of convicted murderer Clayton Lockett to last more than 40 minutes, eventually causing him to die of a heart attack. The incident has drawn national attention to the administration of the death penalty and caused the state Oklahoma to delay another execution that was scheduled for later that same night.

Other recommendations spanned the criminal justice experience, from arrest to execution, they included:

  • Jurisdictions should require post-conviction review of credible claims of evidence.
  • Prosecutors should be required to notify the court and defendant if new evidence in support of an innocence claim surfaces.
  • Defense attorneys should be required to perform at the level of an attorney reasonably skilled at the practice of capital representation
  • The clemency process should be accessible to all death-sentenced prisoners for independent review of their claims

Read the full report HERE.

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