In Brief – June 2021

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In Arizona, corrections officials are preparing to execute death row prisoners with the same gas the Nazis used in mass killings at its concentration camps, the Washington Post reports. The paper says the state has refurbished its gas chamber — unused for 20 years — and has obtained the ingredients for the lethal gas known as Zyklon B. Defendants sentenced to death before 1992 will have the choice between lethal injection or lethal gas. Arizona has 115 prisoners on death row.

In South Carolina, WTOC reports that Gov. Henry McMaster has signed a bill into law that forces prisoners to choose execution by firing squad or electric chair if lethal injection drugs aren’t available. Brad Sigmon is scheduled to be executed June 18, in the state’s first execution in 10 years, a hiatus caused by an inability to obtain lethal injection drugs.

In North Carolina, the NC Policy Watch reports that Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, brothers who were wrongfully convicted of the rape and murder in 1984 and spent 30 years in prison, including time on death row, before being cleared by DNA evidence, were awarded $75 million by a civil jury for their wrongful convictions. Both men are intellectually disabled. Brown was 15 when he was arrested; McCollum was 19. They were pardoned in 2014.

In Georgia, the Miami Herald reports that the state Supreme Court upheld 53-year-old Rodney Young’s death sentence on the grounds that he didn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he is intellectually disabled. Georgia was the first state to pass a law prohibiting the execution of the intellectually disabled, but it also “has the toughest standard in the nation” because it requires proof of disability beyond a reasonable doubt.

In Nevada, corrections officials are gearing up for the state’s first execution in 15 years, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The state plans to execute 45-year-old Zane Floyd for killing four people in a Las Vegas grocery store. Officials haven’t disclosed the lethal injection drugs or the execution protocol they plan to use.

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