Senate Judiciary Committee approves execution by nitrogen asphyxiation

February 16, 2018

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The Senate Judiciary Committee gave a favorable report to a bill Wednesday that would allow death row inmates to select death by nitrogen hypoxia as one of the three approved death penalty methods used by the state of Alabama.

Senate Bill 272 is sponsored by state Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose.

“We have decided in this state that the death penalty is appropriate in Alabama for certain heinous offenses,” Pittman said. “We had a prisoner who wanted death by firing squad a couple of years ago, and I brought a bill to let him do that; but after looking into it, firing squad is not a humane way of killing people. With lethal injection we have had some problems with the availability of certain cocktails. Execution by nitrogen hypoxia has been approved by only one other state.”

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House Republican Caucus releases legislative agenda

December 18, 2017

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Thursday, the Alabama House Republican Caucus released its 2018 “Flag, Family, and Country” legislative agenda.

House Republicans say that it is a package of nine measures designed to provide protections for Alabama families, extend benefits to active duty soldiers and military veterans and encourage respect for the U.S. Flag during the playing of the National Anthem and other patriotic displays.

The package also includes state budgeting reforms, efforts to address the opioid crisis in Alabama and a call for Congress to speed construction of a secure wall across the U.S. – Mexican border.

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Trust in the midst of Death Penalty adjudication

May 29, 2017

Dr. Harold J. Bursztajn, M.D.
Harvard Medical School

The “Houdini” of Alabama’s Death Row, Tommy Arthur, a convicted murder, 75 years of age, was just executed after escaping execution on the seven previous occasions that he was scheduled to die. Even now, questions linger about the about the fairness of the process. Death is never fair. Yet, the process by which an individual is judged to be deserving of the Death Penalty needs to be.

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House committee OKs bill to shorten death penalty appeal times

May 10, 2017

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY — A House committee gave a favorable report to a Senate bill Tuesday that would shorten the time frame for death penalty appeals in an effort to reduce the number of years that can pass while an inmate stays on death row.

The bill would require death row inmates to argue all claims during their appeal. Death row inmates are currently allowed to first appeal trial errors in the Court of Criminal Appeals. Once the trial error appeal is finished, they can then appeal on other issues like ineffective counsel.

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Senate Judiciary Committee approves bill allowing death penalty by nitrogen asphyxiation

April 6, 2017

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Wednesday, April 5, 2017, the Senate Judiciary Committee gave a favorable report to Senate Bill 12 that would add nitrogen asphyxiation to the death penalty manner choices for condemned felons. SB12 is sponsored by Senator Trip Pittman (R-Montrose).

Senator Pittman told the Committee that he wanted to provide condemned individuals more choices in how they meet their end.

Pittman said that currently the only two choices are death by lethal injection or death in the electric chair. Sen. Pittman said that one prisoner asked him to allow him to die in front of a firing squad. Sen. Pittman said that he brought that bill. “I had a lot of people volunteer to be a member of that squad.” But Pittman said that there were issues that came up that resulted in having to remove the firing squad as an option.
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The end to judicial override in Alabama is imminent

April 5, 2017

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY — Alabama’s death penalty sentencing system, which allows judges to override a jury’s recommendation for life in prison, may soon be changing to put the Yellowhammer State in line with all other states that allow capital punishment.

On Tuesday, the Alabama House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill that would prohibit a judge from overriding a jury’s recommendation on the death penalty through a process known as judicial override. Under the bill passed Tuesday, sponsored by Sen. Dick Brewbaker, R-Montgomery, in the Senate and Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, in the House, a jury will have the final say on whether a defendant receives the death penalty.

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Let judicial override be gone forever

April 5, 2017

By Joey Kennedy
Alabama Political Reporter

Most readers know that I oppose the death penalty. I don’t believe the State should ever take something from somebody it can’t make right.

When the State kills a person, the State can’t take that back. The person is dead.

I understand and, indeed, agree that there are crimes that deserve a death penalty. It’s simply that just because somebody deserves to die for his crimes doesn’t mean he should die for his crimes in a State-sanctioned execution.
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Bill to end judicial override in Alabama clears Senate

February 24, 2017

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY — A bill that would end Alabama’s judicial override sentencing system, which allows judges to override juries and impose the death penalty, passed the State Senate Thursday with a near-unanimous vote.

Sen. Dick Brewbaker (R-Montgomery), sponsored the bill, which would prohibit a judge from overriding a jury’s sentence. Under the bill, at least 10 of 12 jurors must vote for death for a defendant to receive the sentence.

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Death to judicial override

January 11, 2017

By Joey Kennedy
Alabama Political Reporter

During my years as an editorial writer for The Birmingham News, I spent much of that time opposed to the death penalty. The death penalty should be abolished; clearly, innocent people have been killed by the State of Alabama. A number have been released from Death Row after being exonerated at some point, barely dodging the electric chair or, now, the needle.

Eventually, my colleagues and I wrote a week-long series telling readers why The News was changing its position on the death penalty. We explained our reason for transforming from a newspaper that supported the death penalty into one that now strongly opposed it. Read More

Brewbaker bill will end judicial override in capital murder cases

January 9, 2017

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

In Alabama, even when a jury recommends someone only receive life in prison, a trial judge in a capital murder case can ignore that recommendation and impose the death penalty. Sen. Dick Brewbaker (R-Montgomery) wants to change this practice, known as “judicial override.”

“The US Supreme Court has made it pretty clear that they do not like it and think this is a bad practice,” said Brewbaker in a phone interview with The Alabama Political Reporter. “Now that Delaware and Florida have gotten rid of it, Alabama is the only state that still practices it.”
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