SD - Death penalty laws

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SD - Death penalty laws

Post  Jennie on Mon Jun 30, 2008 12:42 pm

Death penalty laws

A statute approved by this year's South Dakota Legislature outlines new procedures judges must use in deciding if someone is mentally incompetent and should not be executed by the state.

When a death-row inmate appears to be mentally incompetent, previous law has required the warden to notify the governor so a panel of doctors can be appointed to determine if the inmate is competent to be executed.

The new law will shift those proceedings to circuit court, where judges can order psychiatric evaluations and hold hearings to determine if inmates are fit to be executed.

If an inmate is found mentally incompetent, periodic reviews will be done to determine if they later are determined competent to be put to death by lethal injection.

Three inmates already on death-row in South Dakota will not be affected by the changes because state laws generally cannot be applied retroactively.

The state's 1st execution in 6 decades was done last year when Elijah Page of Athens, Texas, volunteered to be put to death.

Page and 2 other men killed Chester Allan Poage (POHG) of Spearfish in 2000 after kidnapping and torturing him.

(source: Associated Press)

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