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Pharmacy won’t provide lethal drug for Missouri execution

Revamped lethal injection room at San Quentin State Prison supplied by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Revamped lethal injection room at San Quentin State Prison supplied by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

From RT

An Oklahoma pharmacy has agreed not to supply compounded pentobarbital for an upcoming execution in Missouri, following a lawsuit filed by the convict arguing the substance is likely to cause “ultimately inhumane pain.”

The lawsuit was filed by Michael Taylor, whose execution is scheduled for February 26 and who alleged that Missouri could obtain the lethal drug – pentobarbital – from the Apothecary Shoppe of Tulsa.

A federal judge ruled last week that the pharmacy must suspend the supply of the drug to Missouri until further review. The Apothecary Shoppe chose to settle the case out of court.

The Apothecary Shoppe has agreed that it will not prepare or provide pentobarbital or any other drug for use in the execution of Michael Taylor,” Carrie Apfel, Taylor’s attorney, said in a written statement, according to St Louis Public Radio. She also said the pharmacy had not sold any drugs to the Department of Corrections for this execution yet.

The settlement comes as US states which implement capital punishment face a growing shortage of lethal substances, following the 2011 decision by the EU to stop altogether the sale and export to the US of drugs that could potentially be used for executions. (more…)

Solitary Confinement May Dramatically Alter Brain Shape In Just Days, Neuroscientist Says

A solitary cell at Angola prison in the early 1970s

A solitary cell at Angola prison in the early 1970s

From Think Progress

Solitary confinement has been called a “living death,” cruel and unusual, and torture. Studies of the prison practice of placing inmates in a solitary, often concrete windowless cell for 23 hours a day with almost no human contact, have found that the psychological impact is dramatic after just a few days.

A University of Michigan neuroscientist suggested Friday that the physical impact on the brain could be just as significant if not moreso, and could “dramatically change the brain” in just a matter of days. Speaking on a panel about solitary confinement, neuroscientist Huda Akil said inaccess to inmates has prevented much formal study on brain changes while held in confinement. But she said a number of other studies have documented how each of the factors involved in solitary confinement change the physical shape of the brain. The lack of physical interaction with the natural world, the lack of social interaction, and the lack of touch and visual stimulation alone are each “by itself is sufficient to dramatically change the brain,” Akil said at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting.

She said particular parts of the brain that are subject to extreme stress can “actually shrink,” including the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory, spatial orientation, and control of emotions. (more…)

Prison Phone Calls Will No Longer Cost a Fortune

jail-phone-revenuePrison phone rates have decreased by 25% to 50% overnight thanks to new U.S. rules, according to one service provider

From Corporate Media

Hundreds of thousands of U.S. prison inmates and their families will now be able to speak by phone at much lower prices thanks to new federal rules that went into effect on Tuesday. The new rules were crafted by the Federal Communications Commission and are designed to crack down on what prison inmate advocates call abusive and predatory practices by phone companies.

For over a decade, many prison inmates in both state and federal facilities have paid significantly higher rates to make interstate phone calls than people outside of correctional facilities. According to the FCC, some prison inmates have had to pay as much as $17 for a 15 minute phone call.

The new rate caps, which were passed by the agency last fall under the leadership of acting FCC Chair Mignon Clyburn, impose a limit of 21 cents per minute for debit or pre-paid calls and 25 cents per minute for collect calls. At those levels, the cost of a 15-minute call would be reduced by as much 80% to $3.15.

“This is a huge victory for justice for ordinary people at an agency that is usually more attuned to private interests,” says Cheryl A. Leanza, policy director at the United Church of Christ, which has long advocated prison phone reform. “Increasing the connections between families and inmates helps all of us. Strong family connections improve the likelihood that when inmates are released, they will not become repeat offenders, and that makes our society safer. We are very grateful to Commissioner Clyburn.” (more…)

A Tale of Three Marches and Two Durhams

jesusFrom Progresivo

The author of this piece wishes to remain anonymous. 

On November 19th, 17-year-old Chuy Huerta died while in police custody under circumstances unbelievable and unacceptable. After his family called the police concerned for his safety, he ended up shot in the front of his head while his hands were handcuffed behind his back. The Durham Police Department used the press to ask for understanding and forgiveness while they extended none to this child or to his family that night or after. Hundreds of people in Durham took to the streets not once but three times to support the Huerta family and to protest against the Durham Police Department; some demonstrators opposed not just its conduct, but its very existence.

Some, who feel safe in their status and homes, marveled from behind their computer screens that anyone would challenge this militarized force that harasses and polices some neighborhoods and individuals, but not others.  When the police released tear gas on a march and vigil, these political voyeurs insisted there must be a less disruptive way for a family and community to mourn and protest and that the family’s grief was being exploited by outside agitators. Several organizations, employing the language of nonviolence, reconciliation and peace, sponsored a vigil at the family’s church as a safe space for people deterred by chanting and tear gas. Like the press, they now want to ignore the moment when Evelin Huerta and supporters walked out of the service because the chief of police violated the sanctity of the family’s grief by joining in lighting candles in memoriam. Having given the orders that interrupted their candlelight prayer vigil at the police station a month earlier, he did not even have the common decency to stay home and allow the family to pray in peace – this time in their own church, but rather claimed it as another public relations opportunity for himself.  Who in this case is exploiting and not listening to the Huerta family?  Who in their right mind thought a space that included the head of the Durham Police Department was a safe space for people mourning Chuy Huerta? And how can those who insist that the DPD must be included in a community’s grief, a grief caused by the DPD’s actions, proclaim that anyone else is an outside agitator? (more…)