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Lethal Injection Scrutiny Renewed in Idaho After Botched Execution

A botched execution in Idaho has reignited concerns and scrutiny around the use of lethal injection as a method of capital punishment. The failed attempt to execute Thomas Eugene Creech, one of the nation’s longest-serving death row inmates, has raised questions about the effectiveness and humanity of administering lethal injections.

On Wednesday, executioners in Idaho made multiple unsuccessful attempts to access a vein in Mr. Creech’s body to administer the lethal injection. After trying to insert needles into various veins in Mr. Creech’s limbs, officials eventually abandoned the effort as the death warrant was set to expire at the end of the day.

This incident marks Idaho’s first attempted execution in over a decade and follows a string of botched lethal injections across the country. The challenges faced by executioners in finding suitable veins have prompted some states to explore alternative methods of execution, such as nitrogen gas or firing squads.

In response to the botched execution, Mr. Creech’s lawyers filed a motion in federal court to prevent any further attempts to execute him and criticized the failures of the Idaho Department of Correction.

Thomas Eugene Creech, 73, has been in prison for 50 years after being convicted of multiple murders, including the killing of a fellow inmate in 1983. His lawyers had argued against his execution, citing concerns about the constitutionality of the sentence and the method of execution.

The state’s execution team made several attempts to establish an IV line for the lethal injection, using various medical techniques to access Mr. Creech’s veins. However, after nearly an hour of trying, they concluded that they could not proceed with the execution due to “vein quality” issues.

Following the failed execution, Idaho Department of Correction director Josh Tewalt commended the team for their efforts but acknowledged that the execution could not be carried out as planned. Governor Brad Little also supported the decision not to proceed with the execution.

The incident in Idaho comes shortly after Alabama executed a prisoner using nitrogen gas for the first time in the United States. While some officials praised the method as humane, witnesses reported that the prisoner experienced visible distress during the process.

Critics of the death penalty, such as Maya Foa of Reprieve US, have condemned the botched execution in Idaho as further evidence of the inherent brutality of capital punishment. With a growing number of states banning the death penalty and facing challenges in obtaining lethal drugs, the future of executions in the United States remains uncertain.

As Idaho contemplates its next steps in Mr. Creech’s case, discussions around alternative methods of execution, such as firing squads or nitrogen gas, are expected to continue. Governor Brad Little emphasized the need for dignity and professionalism in carrying out executions and acknowledged the limitations of the current execution protocols.

The failed execution in Idaho has renewed debates about the effectiveness and ethics of capital punishment in the United States. While supporters argue for justice and closure for victims’ families, opponents highlight the risks and uncertainties associated with executing death row inmates.

Ultimately, the botched execution in Idaho serves as a stark reminder of the challenges and controversies surrounding the use of lethal injection as a method of carrying out the death penalty.

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs contributed reporting.

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Forest Lawn Drive now free of RV encampment and parking

Nancy Sexton was thrilled when city crews cleared out more than 50 RVs in December that had been parked near her business for months, blocking parking spots and leaving behind trash and waste on Forest Lawn Drive.

Then she realized the long stretch of road near Barham Boulevard in the Hollywood Hills was suddenly off limits for not just parked RVs, but all parked vehicles. Much of the curb was painted red. No parking signs lined the sidewalk.

“It’s a dumb decision,” said Sexton, who owns the Muse Rooms, which offers leased office spaces. “It’s frustrating.”

The more than 50 RVs, which had been stationed along the winding road for months as a semi-permanent living encampment, were removed in December as part of the city’s operation known as Inside Safe. One goal of the program, which is part of Mayor Karen Bass’ initiative to bring people living on the streets indoors, is to end the cycle of homeless encampments being cleared by the city only to return a few weeks later.

But days after the RVs were removed, Sexton said, the curb was painted red and parking was limited. The new red zone is about a quarter mile long, running between Warner Bros. Studios’ Gate 9 entrance and North Coyote Canyon Drive.

The areas that do allow parking, meanwhile, have two-hour limits.

City officials also said the decision to restrict parking was done out of fire safety concerns, not to keep the RVs from resettling along the road. Sexton has her doubts.

The lack of parking along the street suddenly imposed a new, unexpected expense on her clients, prompting some to look elsewhere. The red curb has also become an irritation for some students and workers at the New York Film Academy and businesses nearby.

A road with RVs lining its right side.

RVs are parked on Forest Lawn Drive on June 27, 2023, in Burbank.

(David McNew/Getty Images)

Since the no-parking signs went up, Sexton said, she’s lost two regular members and two potential clients. All of them had aired concern about the lack of street parking and the added expense of paying $12 a day at the parking structure on site.

The parking fee, Sexton said, doubled the monthly costs for some members.

“I didn’t know how much of a problem it was going to be until there were people saying, ‘I can’t pay $12 a day,’ ” she said. “I’m really feeling it now.”

The situation highlights some of the unintended results as city officials look to address homelessness and the concerns of businesses and homeowners affected by makeshift encampments, whether they involve tents, vehicles, or both.

RV encampments have sprung up across the city amid a housing crisis that has left many people priced out of permanent homes. Local officials have looked for ways to address the issue, including new regulations that have targeted overnight RV parking.

According to the mayor’s office, the Inside Safe program has addressed 39 encampments so far, moving more than 2,400 people into interim housing and an additional 440 into permanent housing since December 2022.

Bass spokesperson Zach Seidl said the RVs that were removed from Forest Lawn Drive were themselves causing parking issues in the area, as well as raising other significant safety and public health concerns.

Members of the surrounding community have said removing the RVs “has helped on all three fronts,” Seidl said in a statement. “This operation has saved lives.

Stella Stahl, spokesperson for Councilmember Nithya Raman, said the city has helped many of the RV residents along Forest Lawn Drive to find housing indoors.

In a statement, Stahl credited the decision to limit parking to a request by the Los Angeles Fire Department, which called the area a “high fire severity zone.” A 2019 brush fire in the area burned more than 30 acres and threatened homes and businesses.

In a Sept. 19, 2023, letter, LAFD Assistant Chief Dean Zipperman asked the city Department of Transportation to install “Tow Away No Stopping Any Time” restrictions on the road due to the stopped and parked vehicles there.

To avoid the hassle of looking for parking, cinematography students Sanchin Vinay, Yifan Xiang, and Davide Picci carpool to their classes at the New York Film Academy, which shares a building with the Muse Rooms. Eliminating the RVs has opened some spots to them, although Picci said they’d been able to find spaces on the street before — “really far down.”

A couch on a sidewalk near an RV.

The curb along Forest Lawn Drive, where someone has left a couch.

(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Sometimes they pay the $12 for the daily parking to avoid being late for class. Carpooling helps cushion the cost.

Leslie Bates, a film production instructor, said she heard of students and faculty members having “volatile” interactions with the RV residents.

Now that the RVs have

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