News from around our 50 states

Table of Contents AlabamaAlaskaArizonaArkansasCaliforniaColoradoConnecticutDelawareDistrict of ColumbiaFloridaGeorgiaHawaiiIdahoIllinoisIndianaIowaKansasKentuckyLouisianaMaineMarylandMassachusettsMichiganMinnesotaMississippiMissouriMontanaNebraskaNevadaNew HampshireNew JerseyNew MexicoNew YorkNorth CarolinaNorth DakotaOhioOklahomaOregonPennsylvaniaRhode IslandSouth CarolinaSouth DakotaTennesseeTexasUtahVermontVirginiaWashingtonWest VirginiaWisconsinWyoming Alabama Montgomery: The state said it will allow a death row inmate’s pastor to hold his hand during a lethal injection next month, a decision that was made to end litigation over the issue. […]

Alabama

Montgomery: The state said it will allow a death row inmate’s pastor to hold his hand during a lethal injection next month, a decision that was made to end litigation over the issue. Lawyers for Alabama wrote in a June court document that inmates can now have a personal spiritual adviser present with them in the execution chamber, and the adviser will be allowed to touch them. The agreement settled litigation over Willie Smith’s request to have his personal pastor with him as he is put to death. Smith was convicted of the 1991 kidnapping and murder of 22-year-old Sharma Ruth Johnson in Birmingham. Alabama has rescheduled Smith’s execution for next month. According to court documents, his spiritual adviser can anoint the inmate’s head with oil; pray with the inmate and hold his hand as the execution begins, as long as the adviser steps away before the consciousness assessment is performed; and remain in the execution chamber until the curtains to the witness rooms are drawn. The description was included in a footnote in a joint filing in June by the state and Smith’s attorneys in which the two sides announced they had reached an agreement over the spiritual adviser issue.

Alaska

Juneau: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that it would seek to restart a process that could restrict mining in the Bristol Bay region, renowned for its salmon runs. The announcement is the latest in a long-running dispute over a proposed copper-and-gold mine in the southwest Alaska region. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in November 2020, under the Trump administration, denied key authorization for the proposed Pebble Mine following an environmental review from the agency months earlier that the developer had viewed as a favorable to the project. In the rejection decision, a Corps official concluded the project would “result in significant degradation of the aquatic ecosystem” and was “contrary to the public interest.” The Pebble Limited Partnership, the mine developer owned by Canada-based Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., is appealing that determination. “As the Biden Administration seeks lower carbon emissions for energy production, they should recognize that such change will require significantly more mineral production – notably copper,” Mike Heatwole, a Pebble partnership spokesperson, said in an email. “The Pebble Project remains an important domestic source for the minerals necessary for the administration to reach its green energy goals.”

Lashell Coykendall

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