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Texas switches to single-drug injection in spite of opposition

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It has been a matter of public debate for decades. The state of Texas still uses the death penalty to punish certain crimes. Thus, in the state of Texas, a criminal conviction for certain penalties can involve not only long-term consequences such as jail time, but also the end of one's life entirely. A good criminal defense will strive to avoid such a harsh penalty -- a penalty that many believe is a constitutional violation of citizens' rights. Nonetheless, as the death penalty persists as law in Texas, the state continues to update its procedures.

On July 18, a Texas prisoner long ago convicted of carjacking and murder was the first to undergo a new lethal injection procedure used by the state. The man was the sixth prisoner executed in Texas in 2012. However, he was the first to be put to death after the Texas Department of Criminal Justice determined to switch to single-drug lethal injections. Prior to this change, the state used a sedative in combination with two other drugs. Now, Texas uses a single dose of pentobarbital.

Ohio was the first state to use the single-drug method, and other states have followed. Courts thus far have upheld the practice despite claims that the new single dose takes longer to take effect, unnecessarily prolonging the death of the condemned individual.

While the prisoner put to death on Wednesday did not appeal the use of the drug, his criminal defense did appeal the death penalty in the case. The man's attorneys argued he was not mentally competent to be put to death, a requirement under Texas law.

These appeals were not heard favorably by Texas courts. The man is the 483rd inmate to have been executed since Texas resumed its capital punishment procedures in 1982.

Source: SFGate, "Carjacker will be Texas' 1st single-drug injection," Michael Graczyk, July 18, 2012

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