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Judge accepts new reforms of Arizona death penalty protocols

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A U.S. judge accepted on Thursday major revisions to Arizona’s death penalty procedures, such as eliminating paralytic drugs in lethal injections and giving witnesses more access to watch prisoners inside the death chamber, a lawyer for the death row inmates said.

The changes were part of a settlement reached in a 2014 lawsuit brought by seven death row inmates who argued Arizona’s lethal injection practices were experimental, secretive and caused inmates prolonged suffering.

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On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Neil Wake in Phoenix signed an order that in effect authorized a deal reached between the state and the lawyers for death row inmates, according to Dale Baich, a lawyer for the death row litigants.

The agreement was announced last week in federal court in Phoenix.

The deal marked the first time a state had agreed to such major changes in its drug protocol and execution procedures because of prisoners’ complaints, Baich said.

Representatives for Arizona’s attorney general and Department of Corrections did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Lawyers for the inmates called on the state to drop the use of paralytic agents used to halt breathing, arguing the chemicals hid signs of consciousness and suffering during executions.

The state also agreed to limit the authority of the director of the department of corrections to change execution drugs, and allow a prisoner time to challenge any drug changes, Baich said.

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States have been scrambling to find chemicals for lethal injection mixes after U.S. and European pharmaceutical makers placed a sales ban in recent years on drugs for executions because of ethical concerns.

In December, Arizona also agreed in the same case to stop using the valium-like sedative midazolam, or related products.

Midazolam has been used in troubled executions in Arizona, Alabama, Ohio and Oklahoma. In some instances, witnesses said convicted murderers twisted on gurneys before dying.

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It also was used along with a narcotic in Arizona’s last execution – that of murderer Joseph Wood in 2014. Wood was seen gasping for air during a nearly two-hour procedure in which he received 15 rounds of drug injections. Lethal injections typically result in death in a matter of minutes.

Arizona also agreed under the settlement to allow greater transparency by letting witnesses view more of the execution process, including the moment the executioner administers the drugs intravenously, Baich said.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Bill Trott)

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Trump is the nightmare from which we can’t wake up

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Every morning we wake up and the nightmare that is Donald Trump seems to go on. Most nightmares, even recurring ones, eventually come to an end. We must hope this one will eventually end as well.

As a columnist, it’s difficult to keep writing about what seems to be the same thing over and over — Trump being a racist, homophobic, sexist pig. Then he, his family or someone in the administration does something else that boggles the mind. Last week, he retweeted a conspiracy theory that the Clintons were responsible for Jeffrey Epstein’s death. Every time you think he can’t sink lower he does.

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‘I’ve got nothing’: MSNBC conservative left speechless after he’s scolded for denying white privilege

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Republican political strategist Jason Johnson, a former adviser for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), claimed on Sunday that he does not have "white privilege" because he grew up in a trailer park.

The angry remarks came during an MSNBC panel discussion about the role of racism in the White House.

MSNBC media analyst Eric Deggans argued that President Donald Trump and White House aide Stephen Miller are "trying to expand the definition of what we would turn acceptable discourse about issues that are connected to race."

"They want to narrow the definition of racism so that they’re able to talk about these policies and enact measures that normally saying five years ago or ten years ago we would have clearly consider racist," he pointed out. "If you look at the impact of their policies and the groups that years ago were advocated for these policies, you see their roots and prejudice and racism and you see why so many people of color are concerned about."

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Trump fans smacked down for whining the president is being called a ‘racist’ in righteous rant

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Addressing complaints from both White House officials and fans of Donald Trump that they are tired of hearing the president called a racist, "AM Joy" regular Tiffany Cross fired right back saying they better get used to it.

Following clips of White House adviser Stephen Miller attempting to explain the White House's policies on immigrants, the co-founder of The Beat DC stood up for labeling the president as a bogot.

"It's accurate, you have to call a thing a thing," she began. "I think that's part of the reason why we got here because in 2015, when he kicked off his campaign with a bunch of racist rhetoric, there was a hesitancy to call it out. And there was the first two years of his presidency when he introduced ridiculous white supremacist policies and would follow that up with additional racist rhetoric and we have an echo chamber of people repeating these things, so we have to call a thing a thing."

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