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News Scan

TX to Keep Lethal Drug Source Secret: The Texas Department of Criminal Justice will not have to reveal where it gets its supply of execution drugs after the state's attorney general determined it placed suppliers in serious danger.  The Associated Press reports that unlike other states, Texas law does not specifically say whether prison officials must disclose where they purchase lethal injection drugs from.  Since 2010, three similar attempts made by the Department of Criminal Justice to maintain secrecy for pharmaceutical companies had been rejected by the state's Attorney General's Office.

Bill Aims to Eliminate Jail Mandate for Some Drug Users: California's state Assembly has approved legislation that will ultimately remove mandatory jail sentences for some convicted drug offenders.  The Associated Press reports that if passed, AB2492 would eliminate a three-month jail mandate for individuals convicted of being under the influence of drugs.  The bill's supporters believe that AB2492 will reduce jail overcrowding and return discretion back to county judges.

MO Attorney General Proposes Execution Changes: Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is proposing a plan to have his state build its own laboratory to produce lethal injection chemicals rather than relying on outside pharmaceutical companies.  Mark Berman of the Washington Post reports that Koster believes that having the drugs produced 'in house' would elevate the level of "public transparency" required for lethal injections.  Last week, a Missouri death row inmate was granted a stay just hours before his execution after attorneys alleged he had a medical condition that may cause a prolonged and painful death during the execution.

Sentencing Theatrics:  Jae Palazzolo of the Wall Street Journal reports on a trend with is catching on with federal public defenders;  the introduction of professionally produced videos sympathetic to defendants at sentencing hearings.  Veteran Arizona federal public defender Doug Passon, who pioneered the so-called "sentencing mitigation video", says that the sentences are almost always better (read shorter) when he plays a movie about the defendant at the sentencing hearing.  In one case, a habitual drug dealer with over a dozen priors, who was eligible for a 30-year sentence for conspiracy to deal crack cocaine, was sentenced to 12 years after the judge viewed a video showing his tough life and his crying daughter calling him "one of the best dads ever."  Documentary film makers and former reporters are charging between $5,000 and $20,000 per video. 

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