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News Scan

1st Texas Execution with New Drug Set for Tuesday:  Michael Graczyk of the AP reports Cary Kerr is scheduled to be the first Texas inmate executed with pentobarbital.  Another Texas inmate had been scheduled to die last month using the new drug, but the U.S. Supreme Court delayed the execution.  Kerr was sentenced to death for the murder of 43-year-old Pamela Horton, whom a jury concluded he raped, beat, and strangled to death before dumping her body on a street north of Fort Worth.

Former Judge Urges Death Penalty Repeal:  CBS San Francisco has this story on a challenge to California's death penalty from an unlikely source - retired Judge Donald McCartin, aka "The Hanging Judge of Orange County," who sent nine men to death row between 1978 and 1993.  Angry that he will likely die before any of these death row inmates are executed, McCartin last month urged Governor Jerry Brown to repeal the death penalty, arguing that the state has spent "millions of tax dollars in this meaningless and ultimately fruitless pursuit of death."  Criminal Justice Legal Foundation president Michael Rushford counters in the article that much of these costs are a result of unnecessary delays caused by anti-death penalty advocates and that a more efficient system focusing "on guilt and not on procedural issues and not on technicalities" is possible.

Original Texas Prison Gang Remains Deadly Force:  Dane Schiller of the Houston Chronicle has this article on the continued strength of Texas's original prison gang, the Texas Syndicate.  With thousands of members behind bars and even more on the street, the gang works as a subcontractor for the Mexican drug cartel and is reportedly responsible for at least 50 murders and countless other violent crimes over the past ten years.  The Texas Syndicate was the first prison gang in the state to adopt the Italian mobster traditions of strict rules and discipline, and firmly adheres to its main rule that once a member joins, the gang is more important than family, God, or anything else.  "When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, he had only Ten Commandments.  These folks have 22.  Violate any of them and you're subject to death," said federal prosecutor Robert Wells Jr.

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