Rendell Proposal: Allow Prisoners to Care for Dogs
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
PRISON SPENDING: Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's proposed budget makes deep cuts across state government, including a first-in-the-nation waiver request that — pending federal approval — would cut Medicaid enrollment by 280,000 people. A notable exception to Arizona's cuts, however, could be the state corrections department, which would see a slight funding increase under Brewer's plan. The governor wants to hire 306 new detention officers over three years, as well as borrow money to repair and maintain the state's 10 prison complexes, according to The Arizona Republic .
GUNS: Pro-gun legislation, as Stateline has reported , has not been slowed by the shooting of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona. Recent headlines have made that clear. The Senate president in Arizona has spelled out a policy that lawmakers can bring guns into the chamber, even though it may conflict with state law. Michigan is weighing legislation that would let those with concealed-carry permits to take guns into hospitals, casinos, stadiums, college dorms and classrooms and, potentially, churches. Law enforcement in Iowa is criticizing a bill that would allow residents to shoot to kill in self-defense, even if they are not at home or at work and have not first tried to flee a dangerous scene. Utah lawmakers want to designate the pistol as the official state gun despite concerns about the message it may send following the Giffords attack, in which a handgun was used.
DEATH PENALTY: It has been two weeks since Illinois lawmakers sent Governor Pat Quinn a bill to abolish the death penalty, and Quinn has not decided whether to sign or veto it. The lengthy deliberation period prompted a county judge who is hearing a murder case to blast Quinn as " grossly irresponsible ," given that lawyers' strategies in the trial may hinge on whether the death penalty is a possibility. Quinn's office retorted that it would be "irresponsible" for the governor to make a hasty decision on such a weighty policy issue. While Quinn weighs ending capital punishment in Illinois, lawmakers in New Mexico are considering reinstating it just two years after it was abolished. The state's newly elected Republican governor, Susana Martinez, supports the death penalty. Bill Richardson, her Democratic predecessor, ended it.
EXECUTION PROTOCOLS: The death penalty has been making headlines for more than just policy reasons. A nationwide shortage of one of the drugs used in lethal injections — and a decision by the nation's only manufacturer to stop producing more of it — is having practical consequences on the ground. Georgia executed an inmate Tuesday (January 25) using a shipment of the drug, sodium thiopental, that came from "an unlicensed British company that operates from the back of a London driving school," The New York Times reports . Ohio is switching to a new lethal injection protocol that relies solely on pentobarbital, a barbiturate commonly used to euthanize animals, rather than sodium thiopental. Oklahoma became the first state ever to use pentobarbital in an execution last year. Due to the shortage of sodium thiopental, pentobarbital " is the way states are going to go ," predicts Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center.