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Nevada Supreme Court Clears State To Perform First Execution In Over A Decade

The decision follows questions over the lethal injection cocktail to be used in the execution of Scott Raymond Dozier. 

Nevada will carry out its first execution in more than a decade following a unanimous vote by the state’s Supreme Court Thursday (May 10). The court decision overturned a District Court ruling stalling the execution of 47-year-old Scott Raymond Dozier, amid questions over the use of an experimental lethal injection cocktail.

The drug mixture -- which contains the sedative diazepam (commonly known as valium), the popular opioid fentanyl, and the paralytic cisatracurium -- has never been used before. A federal public defender for Dozier argued that cisatracurium could cause him unnecessary suffering.

Similarly, the American Civil Liberties Union described the execution as potentially “torturous” and raised questions last year, over Nevada prison officials' refusal to release details of its execution protocol, including dosage amounts.

Furthermore, the ACLU questioned prison staff's preparedness to administer the lethal injection cocktail, and whether Dozier will be be awake or sedated as he is being “paralyzed to death.”

“The state’s admission in court that it plans to use a paralytic drug to kill an inmate for the first time in the U.S. takes ‘unusual punishment’ to a new level. And with so much secrecy around the execution plan, which has not been finalized, how can Nevadans even know simple facts such as whether the prison staff will be adequately trained to implement this experimental execution cocktail in a constitutional manner?” ACLU of Nevada Legal Director Amy Rose said in a statement last fall, ahead of Dozier’s planned execution, which was halted by court order.

Dozier, who was convicted of two murders in Nevada and Arizona, waved his right to an appeal in hopes of speeding up his execution. He has been on death row for over a decade.

The first conviction came for the 2002 murder of 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller whose body was found chopped up inside of a suitcase in an apartment dumpster in Las Vegas. Dozier killed Miller and robbed him of $12,000 after luring him to a motel under the pretense that he would help him buy ingredients to make methamphetamine.

Dozier was also linked to the 2001 murder of 22-year-old Jasen Green whose remains were found in a plastic container in the north Phoenix desert. Dozier denies killing Green.

In an interview with The Marshall Project published in January, Dozier said that he doesn’t “want to die” but would “rather be dead” than in prison. He's also not looking for sympathy. “Nevada said stop behaving this way or we will kill you, and I kept behaving that way,” he said.

Nevada has executed a dozen people in the last 40 years, the last of which was Daryl Linnie Mack, a convicting murderer and rapist. Mack was the first black man to be executed by the state since the U.S. granted capital punishment in 1976.

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7.7. Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Jamaica, Cuba And Miami

A powerful earthquake struck in the Caribbean Sea on Tuesday (Jan. 28) triggering temporary tsunami warnings and tremors felt as far away as South Florida. The 7.7. magnitude quake hit the waters between Jamaica, Cuba and the Cayman Islands, according to the United States Geological Survey and the International Tsunami Information Center.

The quake, which struck roughly 86 miles northwest off the coast of Montego Bay, Jamaica, resulted in multiple aftershocks including a a 6.1 tremor near the Cayman Island, and a 4.4 aftershock. “Light shaking” was also reported in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

“Despite the large size of the earthquake, the fact that it occurred offshore and away from high population areas lessened its societal impact,” the USGS said. The organization described the quake as “moderate shaking” in parts of Cuba and Jamaica.

The quake comes nearly a month after a 6.4. magnitude earthquake hit Puerto Rico, but the USGS said that the “seismic events” were unrelated.

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Black People Make Up More Than 50% Of U.S. Homeless Population, Study Finds

Black people in the U.S. are disproportionately impacted by homelessness, per an Annual Homeless Assessment Report released by the Housing and Urban Department. According to the report, blacks account for more than 50% of the country’s homeless population, despite making up only 13% of the U.S. population.

“African Americans have remained considerably overrepresented among the homeless population compared to the U.S. population,” the report states. “African Americans accounted for 40% of all people experiencing homelessness in 2019 and 52% of people experiencing homelessness as members of families with children.

“In contrast, 48% of all people experiencing homelessness were white, compared with 77% of the U.S. population.” People identifying as Hispanic or Latino are bout “22% of the homeless population but only 18% of the populations overall.”

As of 2019, the U.S. homeless population swelled to 568,000, an increase of about 10,000 from the previous year. In 2019, Roughly 35,000 of those experiencing unaccompanied homelessness were under the age of 25, a 4% decrease from 2018. The number of those experiencing chronic homelessness increased by 9% between 2018 and 2019.

A staggering 52% of black families experience homelessness, compared to 35% for white families.

The goal of the report is to “demonstrate continued progress toward ending homelessness, but also a need to re-calibrate policy to make future efforts more effective and aligned with the unique needs of different communities.”

HUD, which is has been releasing the annual housing stats since 2007, shows a 3% bump in the number of those experiencing homelessness on any given night, a 16% increase in California, and a “decrease” in other states. California accounts for 53% (108,432 people) off all unsheltered homeless people in the country. Despite being only twice as large as Florida, California’s homeless population is nine times that of the Sunshine State, which came in at a distant second place with 6% (12,476 people). New York, Hawaii, California, Oregon and Washington have the highest rates of homelessness per 10,000 people.

Numerous variables come into play when determining the origin of the black homeless epidemic due to a longstanding system of oppression in housing, and beyond. Black families are twice as  likely to experience poverty in the U.S., compared to white families; and in spite of laws against open discrimination, black renters face overt and covert financial and racial prejudice, in addition to gentrification and the racial pay gap.

On Jan. 7, HUD unveiled a housing proposal that attempts to undue Obama-era housing mandates put in place to prevent racial discrimination. The newly-released proposal may end up further promoting racial discrimination.

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Black Texas Teen Barred From Graduation Because Of His Dreadlocks

A black Texas teen was suspended and is barred from graduation because of his dreadlocks, NBC News reports. DeAndre Arnold, a senior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, has to cut his hair if he wants to walk the graduation stage.

DeAndre, whose family hales from Trinidad, has had locks for several years, gets A’s and B’s in school, and wears his hair in compliance with the school’s dress code, his mother, Sandy Arnold, told Houston’s NBC affiliate KPRC. “The dress code is [hair] off the shoulders above the earlobes and out of the eyes,” she explained.

The school district allegedly changed the dress code around Christmas of last year. According to the latest Barbers Hill Student Handbook, hair must be “clean and well groomed.” Students are not allowed to cover their heads, dye their hair, or wear “geometric or unusual patterns (such as Mohawks and Faux hawks) shaved or cut in the hair.” For male students, hair can’t fall below the eyebrows or earlobes and must not extend “below the top of a T-shirt collar.”Beards, goatees and mustaches are also not allowed.

DeAndre’s mother said that she reached out to board members and the superintendent to rectify the issue but with no luck.

“They say that even [when] my hair is up if it were down it would be not in compliance with the dress code. However, I don’t take it down in school,” said DeAndre.

The teen proudly rock his dreadlocks because the hairstyle connects him to Trinidadian culture. “I really like that part of Trinidadian culture. I really embrace that.”

Barbers Hill Independent School District released a statement noting that the district enforces a “community supported hair length policy” that has been in place “for decades.” The statement adds, “Barber Hill is a state leader with high expectations in all areas!”

The teenager's story is similar to that of a 6-year-old boy in Texas whose school also wanted him to cut off his dreadlocks. DeAndre's mother said her son won’t be getting a hair cut. “This is a pat of who he is. So [we're] absolutely not going to cut his hair.”

See more in the video above.

 

 

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