death penalty

Sister Helen Prejean and actress Susan Sarandon appearing on the August 31 episode of "The Dr. Phil Show."
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A Hollywood actress spoke to a nationwide audience Monday on behalf of an Oklahoma death row inmate.

Susan Sarandon appeared on The Dr. Phil Show and urged Gov. Mary Fallin to issue a 60-day stay for Richard Glossip.

The Oklahoma inmate was convicted of first-degree murder for the 1997 death of Oklahoma City motel owner Barry Van Treese, and is scheduled to die September 16.

The execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester
Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Oklahoma County was once among the top 2 percent of counties nationwide that accounted for 56 percent of the people sitting on death row as of 2012, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Sister Helen Prejean at the Voices of Hope conference held in the Galway Bay Hotel in Galway, Ireland October 25-26, 2013.
Irish Jesuits / Flickr

Updated August 11, 6:11 a.m.

Gov. Mary Fallin plans to move forward with the execution of Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Glossip despite calls for a stay of execution from death penalty opponents.

The governor said Monday two juries convicted Richard Glossip of murder and sentenced him to death, and that decision was reviewed and upheld by several courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

Supreme Court
Mark Fischer / Flickr

The end of June was a busy few days for both the state and federal judiciary. As the U.S. Supreme Court wound down its term, opinions in some of the widest-reaching cases came in the final few days.

But a lot of the reasons behind all of this began years ago.

Death Penalty Dispute

Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Eugene Glossip
Oklahoma Department of Corrections

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals set execution dates Wednesday for three inmates involved in the legal challenge regarding the state’s lethal injection protocol. 

The court ordered dates for Richard Eugene Glossip, Benjamin Robert Cole and John Marion Grant. Glossip will be executed Sept. 16, and the other two inmates have dates set on Oct. 7 and Oct. 28, respectively.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday issued the last of its opinions for this term — on the death penalty, anti-pollution regulations and the power of independent commissions to draw congressional and state legislative districts. In addition, the court issued a set of orders that set up cases to be heard next term on affirmative action and abortion.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday dealt a major blow to death penalty opponents, upholding the use of a controversial drug as part of a three-drug execution cocktail. The vote was 5-4, with unusually passionate and sometimes bitter opinions from the majority and dissenting justices.

Supreme Court Upholds Use Of Execution Drug

Jun 29, 2015

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court has upheld the use of a controversial execution drug.

The case was brought by a group of Oklahoma inmates who argued that a drug used by the state constituted cruel and unusual punishment because it did not guarantee that prisoners would be unconscious when additional drugs were administered to stop their hearts.

The drug was used in three botched executions last year that appeared to leave prisoners in excruciating pain. The court ruled that the Oklahoma prisoners did not prove that a better drug was available.

Updated at 10:46 a.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 opinion, says the sedative used in Oklahoma's lethal injection cocktail does not violate the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Here's the background to the case, in the words of SCOTUSblog:

Dr. Ervin Yen holds a prescription for Midazolam
Kate Carlton Greer / KGOU

The Supreme Court upheld Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol Monday. The case centered on a single drug, midazolam, that’s now used as part of a three-drug cocktail. Critics claim it is unreliable during executions and cannot produce a “deep, coma-like state” on a regular basis.

But in hospitals across Oklahoma, the drug is being used by anesthesiologists very frequently.

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