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Trend away from death penalty continues as states and courts halt executions

Governors Wolf (PA) & Brown (OR)In 2014, the United States saw its fewest executions in twenty years. Now, less than a quarter of the way into 2015, two new governors – Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania and Kate Brown of Oregon – have declared a halt to executions in their states. In other states, lingering questions over lethal injection are also keeping executions on hold.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf made his announcement in mid-February, shortly after he took office. In an eloquent, multi-page statement, he said he would not allow executions to go forward in Pennsylvania until the recommendations of a forthcoming study on Pennsylvania’s death penalty are fully addressed.

Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown stepped into the Governorship after the resignation of John Kitzhaber last month. As soon as she took office, she promised to continue the moratorium on executions that Kitzhaber imposed in late 2011. Brown said she believes there needs to be a broader discussion about the death penalty in the state, and she will not consider going forward with executions until that time.

Pennsylvania and Oregon join Colorado and Washington as states where governors have imposed moratoria. Elsewhere, the courts are stepping in.

Oklahoma and Ohio executions on hold over lethal injection

Supreme Court BuildingOhio made national news last January after a new lethal injection drug led to a botched execution. Since then, Ohio’s executions have been repeatedly delayed. In October, a federal judge officially stayed all executions until the beginning of 2015, while the state attempted to address ongoing challenges to its lethal injection process.

Now, Ohio Governor John Kasich has announced there will be no executions in 2015.

Oklahoma’s executions are facing similar challenges. Last April, the execution of Clayton Lockett shocked the nation when witnesses saw him writhing in pain after he was supposed to be unconscious. Executions were delayed there as well, resuming just last month. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has stayed all upcoming executions in Oklahoma while it reviews the specific method used there.

Oklahoma's botched execution shocks the nation

Last night Oklahoma botched the execution of Clayton Lockett. Lockett began writhing in pain after he was supposed to be unconscious.

Killing McVeigh: The Death Penalty and the Myth of Closure

A new book, Killing McVeigh: The Death Penalty and the Myth of Closure by Professor Jody Lyneé Madeira explores the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombings and finds that the execution of Ti

Annual Training and Strategy

EJUSA organizer Sarah Craft

In November 2006, EJUSA hosted our second Training and Strategy Retreat in the Shenandoah Mountains in Virginia.

Oklahoma: chemist may have destroyed evidence of innocence

Oklahoma police chemist Joyce Gilchrist, fired in 2001 for shoddy and even fraudulent forensics work in hundreds of cases, has once again made headlines. An Oklahoma police memo leaked to the Associated Press in April outlines compelling evidence that Gilchrist “intentionally lost or destroyed” evidence that could have proven the innocence of death row inmate Curtis Edward McCarty. The police chemist’s original notes on McCarty’s hair sample showed that it did not match those found at the crime scene, excluding him as a suspect.

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