In Brief: May 2017


In Philadelphia on Tuesday, a civil rights lawyer, who is opposed to the death penalty, has never worked as a prosecutor, and has defended Black Lives matter and Occupy Philadelphia protestors, won the Democratic primary for district attorney. The Associated Press reports that Larry Krasner said his victory was about “a vision of a criminal justice system that works for everyone.”

In Georgia on Wednesday, J.W. Ledford, Jr. was executed by a lethal injection of compounded barbiturate pentobarbitol, in the state’s first execution of the year. reports the 45-year-old Ledford was convicted of killing his neighbor in 1992. Georgia executed nine men last year, more than any other U.S. state.

In Texas last week, a former state prosecutor was found not guilty of misconduct in the 1992 death penalty trial of Cameron Todd Willingham, Jr. The Marshall Project reports that jurors, 11-1, re-jected claims by the State Bar of Texas that former prosecutor John Jackson made false statements, concealed evidence favorable to Willingham’s defense and ob-structed justice. Willingham was executed in Texas in 2004 for allegedly setting a fire that killed his three young daughters in 1991.

Also in Texas, the Department of Criminal Justice filed a lawsuit late last month against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for blocking the importation of one thousand vials of sodium thiopental from a foreign distributor. Law360 reports the state is “fighting an uphill battle” because the FDA is complying with a D.C. Circuit Court ruling that prevents the agency from allowing the ‘entry of shipments of foreign-made sodium thiopental that appears to be an unapproved new drug or misbranded.”

In Washington, D.C., the Catholic Mobilizing Network is circulating an anti-death penalty pledge that commits signers to educate themselves about the injustices of the death penalty, “including the ways it risks innocent life, fails victims’ families, and contradicts the Catholic Church’s pro-life teaching.”

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