2015 Archives

Supreme Court gives new life to death penalty debate

Excerpt

The following is from the April 9, 2015, edition of USA Today. Rick Halperin, director of SMU's Embrey Human Rights Program, provided expertise for this story.

April 15, 2015

By Richard Wolf
USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Kent Sprouse is set to die Thursday by lethal injection, a method of execution botched so often lately that the Supreme Court will weigh in on its constitutionality later this month.

Sprouse, however, isn't likely to get a reprieve. That's because he's imprisoned in Texas, far and away the nation's leader in lethal injections and a state that has managed to carry out a regular schedule of executions without mishap.

The state recently snared a new supply of pentobarbital, the drug of choice for executioners in a country fast running out of humane ways to kill death row inmates. That should give Texas enough of the barbiturate to execute four men at its Huntsville state penitentiary this month, bringing its total to 526 lethal injections since it spearheaded the practice in 1982. . . 

"I do not think the court is going to open the Pandora's box to broader discussions about the nature of lethal injection as a broad topic or the death penalty in general," says Rick Halperin, director of the Human Rights Education Program at Texas' Southern Methodist University.

Read the full story.