execution

Updated at 12:30 pm ET

A federal judge in Washington has blocked federal executions scheduled for this week, citing concerns that the lethal injection protocol involved is "very likely to cause extreme pain and needless suffering."

Judge Tanya Chutkan said the last-minute ruling only hours before executions were set to resume for the first time in 17 years was "unfortunate," but she blamed the Justice Department for racing ahead before legal challenges had been fully aired.

Capital punishment is on the decline in the United States, with only 13 new death sentences and seven executions so far this year.

But the U.S. Justice Department is moving in the other direction. Authorities are preparing the death chamber in Terre Haute, Ind., for the first federal executions in 17 years, starting Monday.

Death row inmates, their spiritual advisers and even one set of victims' relatives are moving to the courts to try to stop or delay the process. They're using a novel argument: the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated at 11:49 a.m. ET

The spiritual adviser to a federal inmate facing death this month has sued the U.S. attorney general and prison officials seeking a delay to his execution.

The Rev. Seigen Hartkemeyer, 68, is a Buddhist priest with lung troubles. He's worried that traveling to the federal death chamber in Terre Haute, Ind., could put him in the middle of a COVID-19 "super-spreader" environment.

Updated at 11:31 p.m. ET

The Supreme Court has declined to hear a challenge to the federal death penalty method, allowing the executions of four men scheduled in the coming weeks to go forward. They would be the first uses of the death penalty in federal cases since 2003.

The court's order was posted Monday. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor indicated that they would have considered the case.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine speaks before signing his first executive action alongside his wife Fran, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Cedarville, Ohio. The former U.S. senator took his oath in a private midnight ceremony at his Cedarville home.
John Minchillo / AP

Gov. Mike DeWine has issued three reprieves of execution, as the future of Ohio’s death penalty looks more uncertain.

The Future Of Ohio's Death Penalty

Jan 16, 2020
Dan Konik / Statehouse News Bureau

The death penalty remains the law of the land in Ohio, but House Speaker Larry Householder says the law could be unenforceable if the state can’t buy the drugs needed to administer lethal injections.

Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder
Paul Vernon / AP

The Republican leader of the Ohio House says lawmakers are in a quandary when it comes to the death penalty. 

Updated at 11:45 a.m. ET

A judge has blocked the U.S. government's plan to begin executing federal prisoners for the first time in nearly 20 years. U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan issued a preliminary injunction Wednesday halting four executions set to begin next month over concerns about the government's lethal injection method.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien giving closing arguments in the case of Quentin Smith, who killed two Westerville Police officers, on Oct. 31, 2019.
Fred Squillante / Pool/Columbus Dispatch

Quentin Smith, convicted of murdering two Westerville Police officers in February 2018, narrowly avoided a death sentence this week.

"The Quentin Smith case was, even for today, a classic death penalty case. Killing a police officer in Ohio is a death penalty specification, killing two or more people is," says Andrew Welsh-Huggins.

Voters fill out their ballots at the Hamilton County Board of Elections on the first day of early voting, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, in Cincinnati.
John Minchillo / Associated Press

In this week's episode of Snollygoster, Ohio's politics podcast from WOSU, hosts Mike Thompson and Steve Brown discuss why it's so hard to get voters out to polls for local elections where their impact can be much greater. Political consulatant Mary Anne Sharkey joins the show.

Gov. DeWine Delays Two More Executions

Oct 31, 2019
lethal injection chair
Wikipedia Commons

Gov. Mike DeWine has delayed two more executions, citing Ohio’s continuing struggles to find supplies of lethal injection drugs.

Ohio Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine reviews his prepared comments ahead of a primary election night event, Tuesday, May 8, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio.
Bryan Woolston / Associated Press

For the first time in three years, Ohio likely won’t see an execution in 2019.

Ohioans To Stop Execution successfully stopped the execution of Raymond Tibbetts in 2018..
OTSE

Members of the Ohio Parole Board will be given extensive information about the background of condemned inmates asking for mercy before they interview the prisoners, under a change in board policy that addresses a longtime criticism of the interview process.

Execution chamber in Florida
Doug Smith / Florida Department of Corrections

A federal judge is allowing an Ohio prison pharmacist to destroy the state's supply of expired lethal injection drugs.

In this November 2005 file photo, Larry Greene, public information director of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, demonstrates how a curtain is pulled between the death chamber and witness room at the prison in Lucasville, Ohio.
Kiichiro Sato / Associated Press

A federal appeals court says an execution set for next May can go forward, because the condemned killer didn’t prove his claim that the state’s three-drug execution method is unconstitutional. 

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