[JURIST] Alabama death row inmate Christopher Brooks was executed Thursday night after the US Supreme Court denied [order, PDF] his appeal [JURIST report] for a stay of execution on the grounds that the sentencing was unconstitutional. Brooks argued that Alabama's death-penalty system is identical to Florida's, which the Supreme Court ruled was an unconstitutional [JURIST report] violation of the Sixth Amendment. Brooks was convicted over two decades ago for the burglary, rape and murder of Jo Deann Campbell. This was the first execution in the state since 2013.
Use of the death penalty [JURIST news archive] has been a controversial issue throughout the US and internationally. The US Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled [JURIST report] in Kansas v. Carr [opinion, PDF] that a jury in a death penalty case does not need to be advised that mitigating factors, which can lessen the severity of a criminal act, do not need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt like aggravating factors. Last month the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld [JURIST report] the authority of Governor Tom Wolf to postpone executions in the commonwealth. In October the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals unanimously granted [JURIST report] a request from Attorney General Scott Pruitt to halt all of the state's scheduled executions to allow for an investigation into why the prison received incorrect lethal injection drugs. Oklahoma became the epicenter [JURIST report] of the lethal injection drug debate in 2014 after the death of Clayton Lockett, a death row inmate who died of an apparent heart attack minutes after doctors called off a failed attempt to execute him. Last June the US Supreme Court held that the use of the drug midazolam may be used in executions [JURIST report] without violating the Constitution.