Kansas Tattoo Parlors Say Nobody’s Getting Inked on Welfare Checks

Gov. Sam Brownback signs a welfare reform bill into law in Topeka, Kan. on April 16, 2015.
Orlin Wagner—AP Gov. Sam Brownback signs a welfare reform bill into law in Topeka, Kans., on Apr. 16, 2015.

A new law also restricts welfare spending on lingerie, concert tickets and psychics

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed into law Thursday some of the country’s strictest prohibitions on where welfare money can and can’t be spent. For needy families in the Sunflower State, concerts are out. Casinos: out. Lingerie: out. Fortune tellers: out. The law lists more than two dozen products or businesses that are now off-limits.

But owners and operators of a half-dozen Kansas psychics, lingerie stores and tattoo parlors, in which poor families are now restricted from spending cash assistance from the state, all say essentially the same thing: patrons aren’t using welfare in here anyway.

“I’ve never seen anybody try that,” says Aimee Teets, a receptionist at Aftershock Tattoo Co., in Olathe, Kan. Teets says some pre-loadable cards aren’t even accepted at her business, so it’s possible that a benefits card from the state would’ve been denied even before the law was passed.

According to the National Conference of State Legislators, 23 states have passed restrictions on state benefit cards in attempts to prevent purchases on items like alcohol and gambling. The law signed in Kansas Thursday is believed to be among the most restrictive in the U.S.

But according to studies, most welfare recipients appear to be spending a majority of their money on basic necessities. According to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, a vast majority of families on public assistance spend that money on housing, food and transportation. Only a small percentage goes to expenses like entertainment.

The Associated Press also cites a 2014 federal report looking at eight states’ welfare transactions showing that spending on liquor stores, casinos and strip clubs made up less than 1% of the total.

Liz Bartlett, a sales associate at lingerie store Clair de Lune in Overland Park, Kan., says she’s never been aware of anyone using welfare money on purchases at the store. Tattooists who spoke to TIME agreed. “I’ve never heard of anything like that,” says Jim, the general manager of The Mercy Seat who refused to give his last name. “But we’re cash only anyway.”

That still poses a problem for state officials hoping to keep welfare monies in check. The new law allows people to withdraw $25 a day, and the state can’t easily control where it’s spent.

“The purchases may be declined if an EBT card is used,” says Theresa Freed, a spokesperson for the Kansas Department for Children and Families. “If [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families] cash funds are withdrawn from an EBT card, it is very difficult to track the use of those funds.”

TIME Crime

This Town Has 1 Cop for Every 2 Residents

An Oakley police car on March 14, 2014 in Oakley, Mich.
Jeff Schrier—AP An Oakley police car in Oakley, Mich., on March 14, 2014 .

And one of them might be Kid Rock

A town in Michigan with a population of just 300 has roughly 150 police officers in an alleged “pay-to-play” scheme that allows reserve officers to get around the state’s gun restrictions.

The town of Oakley, Mich., has dozens of people apply to become cops in the tiny town, The Guardian reports, among them rapper Kid Rock, a football player for the Miami Dolphins, and various Michigan businessmen.

Those accepted to become reserve officers, who pay sums of up to $4,000 to join the force, are then authorized to carry firearms in places that generally ban them, like schools and bars. The Saginaw News reported that the law enforcement agency had raised almost $250,000 from 2008 to 2014.

The allegations are part of a lawsuit intended to make the Oakley police force more transparent. A lawyer involved in the case told the Guardian that all the reservists but one live at least 90 minutes drive from the town.

Reserve officers have come under scrutiny in recent weeks after the apparent accidental shooting of Eric Harris by Robert Bates, a 73-year-old volunteer deputy in Tulsa, Okla. Harris was shot and killed by Bates, who said he meant to use his Taser instead of his gun.


TIME Crime

Missouri National Guard Called Ferguson Protesters ‘Enemy Forces’

Police and Missouri National Guard attempt to control demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown on Aug. 18, 2014 in Ferguson, Mo.
Scott Olson—Getty Images Police and Missouri National Guard attempt to control demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown on Aug. 18, 2014 in Ferguson, Mo.

Internal documents bolster claims of military-style approach

The Missouri National Guard referred to protesters in Ferguson last summer as “enemy forces,” according to documents obtained by CNN, bolstering claims the police adopted military tactics to react to protests over the death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

In August, the state’s National Guard was called into aid local police agencies who were attempting to control demonstrators protesting the death of Brown, a black unarmed teenager, by Darren Wilson, a white police officer.

The protests began as a demonstration against police use of force. But the response by law enforcement agencies, which mobilized armored vehicles and utilized tear gas and M4 rifles, spurred a national conversation over the militarization of police and prompted Congress to hold hearings over the flow of military gear to local police agencies.

The documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request appears to support those who claim authorities used a excessively military-style approach in its response.

“It’s disturbing when you have what amounts to American soldiers viewing American citizens somehow as the enemy,” Antonio French, a prominent alderman in St. Louis, told the network.


TIME Crime

The Dawn of a New Form of Capital Punishment

Why Oklahoma became the first state to approve nitrogen gas as a lethal injection alternative

In the weeks following the execution of Clayton Lockett, the Oklahoma death row inmate whose botched lethal injection triggered a statewide moratorium on executions, lawmakers there began rethinking their approach to capital punishment. Among the people they called on to help was Michael Copeland.

Copeland is a criminal justice professor at East Central University, a public school with about 6,000 students in Ada, Okla. From 2010 to 2013, he was the director of the anti-fraud unit at the Oklahoma Insurance Department. Before that, he was an assistant attorney general for the Republic of Palau, a small island nation in the Pacific Ocean. Copeland is not a doctor. He has no medical training. But what he does have is a close relationship with Oklahoma legislators, some of whom he’s known for years. And they often ask Copeland to conduct research and gather data that could help shape bills. He’s worked with legislators on reducing the number of uninsured motorists, for example, and helped draft guidelines for the transportation of the mentally ill who are a danger to themselves and others.

About a year ago, Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian, who attended high school with Copeland, asked his old friend for ideas on how to replace the increasingly problematic method of lethal injection. After studying the issue, Copeland recommended death by nitrogen, a method that has never been used for a state-sanctioned killing in the U.S.

Nevertheless, Oklahoma has embraced the idea. On Friday, Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, signed a bill into law, based on Copeland’s research, that would make nitrogen asphyxiation the state’s execution method if lethal injection is ruled unconstitutional or the necessary drugs are no longer available. The law marks a new frontier in the increasingly charged debate over the future of capital punishment in America. And it ensured that the state where lethal injection originated three decades ago has resumed its place as the nation’s execution laboratory.

The Problems With Lethal Injection

The idea of nitrogen asphyxiation or “nitrogen hypoxia” has been been batted around as a method of capital punishment for years. A 1995 National Review article titled “Killing With Kindness: Capital Punishment by Nitrogen Asphyxiation,” for example, recommended that states use nitrogen gas after a federal district court deemed California’s gas chamber unconstitutional. But the method largely remained on the fringes of the capital punishment debate.

MORE: Texas Running Out of Execution Drug

Twenty years later, the landscape has changed dramatically. Today, a number of states are facing severe lethal injection drug shortages after pharmaceutical companies stopped providing drugs for the procedure. Texas, for example, is down to enough pentobarbital for just a handful of executions. Legislators in Alabama, Tennessee and Virginia have introduced legislation to bring back the electric chair because of problems obtaining drugs, while Utah has resurrected the firing squad. And looming over it all is a Supreme Court case this summer involving Oklahoma’s three-drug protocol. The court’s decision could potentially force states to abandon lethal injection altogether.

“The problem we’re having in Oklahoma now and several other states is that while lethal injections used to be an effective and humane way to execute someone, it’s really not anymore,” Copeland says. “The facts on the ground have changed. Now it’s like an experiment every time. Here’s some drugs and maybe we’ll have a paramedic administer it and let’s see what happens. Maybe this will kill ‘em. It’s kind of haphazard, and I think it’s only going to get worse.”

No one could’ve foreseen lethal injection’s problems in 1977, when an Oklahoma legislator asked Dr. Jay Chapman, the state medical examiner, to develop what was intended to be a more humane execution alternative to firing squads. Chapman developed a three-drug cocktail that soon became the default method of executions nationwide. But by 2010, European drug makers acceded to pressure from death penalty opponents and stopped selling drugs for use in executions. As supplies dwindled, states scrambled to figure out how to keep killing without the three drugs they had long relied on: sodium thiopental, a sedative; pancuronium bromide, a paralytic agent; and potassium chloride, a compound that stops the heart.

Some states switched to using just one drug, often pentobarbital, a barbiturate. Others began using midazolam, a sedative that has been scrutinized by some anesthesiologists for not being strong enough to properly induce unconsciousness and is at the heart of the upcoming Supreme Court case. Many states have turned to compounding pharmacies, which are unregulated by the federal government, for their supply while passing secrecy laws to keep those drug makers shielded from public view.

Last year, there were three executions widely considered botched, all of which included the sedative midazolam. Dennis McGuire, an Ohio inmate convicted of rape and murder, died after reportedly snoring and snorting during his lethal injection. Joseph Wood, an Arizona inmate, reportedly gasped on the gurney in an execution that took nearly two hours. And in Oklahoma, Lockett died in a lethal injection that went so awry that documents obtained by the Tulsa World show that Lockett essentially helped his executioners find a vein after they failed multiple times to insert IVs into his arms and legs. It was that chaotic scene that sent Oklahoma legislators on the search for an alternative.

The Search For A Better Way to Kill

Copeland says there were four main criteria he tried to meet in recommending a new execution method: 1) it had to be humane; 2) it couldn’t have supply problems; 3) it had to be simple to administer; 4) it could be done without medical professionals. Nitrogen, Copeland says, satisfies all four.

MORE: The Harsh Reality of Execution by Firing Squad

The method would likely consist of a gas mask that covers the head and neck, which would be filled with pure nitrogen from a nearby canister. That nitrogen would displace the oxygen, leading to death by oxygen deprivation, says Solomon Snyder, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins Medical School who is not involved in the Oklahoma bill.

The method’s supporters cite accidental deaths that were reportedly peaceful — such as divers who took in too much nitrogen and pilots whose oxygen levels fell too low — as evidence of the chemical’s efficacy. Nitrogen hypoxia has also been recommended by some advocates of euthanasia in places without so-called right to die laws. The gas is also relatively cheap and abundant, decreasing concerns about supply problems.

“Execution via nitrogen hypoxia is a painless form of capital punishment that is simple to administer, doesn’t depend upon the aid of the medical community, and is not subject to the supply constraints we are faced with when using the current three-drug cocktail protocol,” State Rep. Mike Christian, who wrote the House bill authorizing nitrogen gas, said in an e-mail.

Copeland says that physicians, who declined to testify in front of state legislators, confirmed for a 14-page study he co-authored that a lack of oxygen would lead someone to pass out within about 15 seconds, halt brain waves within 30 to 45 seconds and stop the heart within two to three minutes. In September, Copeland presented his findings to the Oklahoma House Judiciary Committee. His presentation included YouTube videos of people passing out from too much helium, another inert gas. Pilots testified about experiencing hypoxia, describing the gradual decrease of oxygen as undetectable, and Copeland claims the effects with nitrogen would be similar.

“We have a lot of parallels,” Copeland says. “We’ve just never used [nitrogen] in this context.”

Changing the context could prove problematic. Administrating the gas within a prison is much different than the instances in which pilots and divers have slowly and accidentally experienced a lack of oxygen. Dr. Michael Weiden, a pulmonary expert at NYU School of Medicine, says that while nitrogen could be administered without medical professionals, using it for capital punishment could create an ironic consequence: the need for sedation.

“What’s going to prevent someone from holding their breath and prolonging their execution?” says Weiden, who supports the death penalty for certain crimes. “People are going to hold their breath as the oxygen leaks out of their bodies. They’ll struggle, and somebody who thinks that an individual who’s asphyxiating will not freak out without sedation is foolish.”

The American Medical Association’s ethical guidelines require that “physicians can only certify death, provided that the condemned has been declared dead by another person,” according to spokesman R.J. Mills. The association does not have a position on the Oklahoma bill.

Despite the unanswered questions, more states appear to be considering nitrogen as they plan for a future without lethal injection. Copeland says he has been in touch with corrections officials in several states, some of which he says are “ahead of us in terms of protocol.” Copeland would not disclose the states.

Oklahoma Sen. Anthony Sykes, who sponsored the nitrogen bill in the state Senate, says Louisiana and Texas have both shown interest in the method. Louisiana Department of Corrections Secretary James LeBlanc told a legislative committee last year that “nitrogen is the next big thing” and described it as a “painless way to go.” In February, the state’s corrections department issued a report recommending nitrogen hypoxia as an alternative method of execution.

A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice would not confirm that the state was considering alternative execution methods.

To some lethal injection experts the interest in nitrogen has familiar echoes of the discussion nearly 40 years ago, when states were contemplating methods other than firing squads and gas chambers.

“It looks fool-proof,” says Deborah Denno, a law professor at Fordham University who opposes the death penalty over what she says is its inequitable application in the U.S. “It’s easy to look at these incidents in a non-prison setting and say they die humanely. But implementing that into a prison setting, the conditions aren’t the same. The people doing this aren’t the same.”

Corrections officials have varied levels of training and experience with lethal injection, which can lead to the sorts of errors that contributed to Lockett’s prolonged execution. Denno cautions that the same problems could happen with the administration of nitrogen.

Richard Dieter, the senior program director of the Death Penalty Information Center, an anti-death penalty group, says Oklahoma would essentially be conducting another experiment if it went adopted nitrogen hypoxia.

MORE: Georgia Postpones 2 Execution Over ‘Cloudy’ Drugs

“This method has never been used before in an execution,” Dieter says. “I think it’s premature to accept a legislator’s promise that all will go well. It’s one thing to say that people have died of oxygen deprivation and another to strap an unwilling subject in a chamber and watch the reactions and resistance for the first time.”

Now that Fallin has signed the bill into law, Oklahoma has sidestepped something a number of other states have been forced into: a return to methods that were all but abandoned decades ago.

“You got to remember that if this doesn’t pass, the alternative is not to go back to lethal injection,” Copeland said in February. “If for some reason lethal injection either becomes unavailable or it’s unconstitutional, we go to the electric chair. Maybe you don’t believe in the death penalty, but certainly you believe that if we’re going to have a death penalty, it should be done in a humane way. And I think [nitrogen] is better than the electric chair by a wide margin.”

TIME Crime

From Trayvon Martin to Walter Scott: Cases in the Spotlight

A timeline of controversial recent encounters

  • Trayvon Martin

    Trayvon Martin
    Martin Family/AP Trayvon Martin

    Feb. 26, 2012 Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman fatally shoots unarmed 17-yearold Trayvon Martin after an altercation in a Sanford, Fla., subdivision. The incident sparked a national conversation about race and prompted President Obama to say that were he to have a son, “he’d look like Trayvon.” Zimmerman, who argued that he acted in self-defense, was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter in July 2013.

  • Ernest Satterwhite

    Feb. 9, 2014 Ernest Satterwhite, 68, is shot and killed in his driveway by a white public-safety officer in North Augusta, S.C., following a slow-speed car chase. Justin Craven fired multiple rounds through the driver-side door of the vehicle. The officer alleges that Satterwhite reached for his weapon; Satterwhite’s family disputes the allegation. Craven was charged with a felony for discharging his gun into an occupied vehicle on April 7, the same day Michael Slager was charged with murdering Walter Scott. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

  • Dontre Hamilton

    An undated photo of Dontre Hamilton, provided by Dameion Perkins.
    AP An undated photo of Dontre Hamilton, provided by Dameion Perkins.

    April 30, 2014 Milwaukee police officer Christopher Manney fatally shoots Dontre Hamilton, an unarmed 31-year-old African American with a history of mental illness, in a downtown park. Manney alleged that Hamilton, who appeared to be homeless, attempted to grab his baton during a pat down. Manney says he shot Hamilton 14 times in self-defense. Manney was fired in October but was not charged in the shooting.

  • Eric Garner

    Eric Garner
    National Action Network/AP Eric Garner, right, poses with his children during a family outing.

    July 17, 2014 Eric Garner, 43, dies after being wrestled to the ground as New York City police attempted to arrest him for selling illegal cigarettes. In a cell-phone video recorded by a bystander, Garner can be heard repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe.” The phrase was soon adopted as a rallying cry by protesters. On Dec. 3, a grand jury decided not to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo in Garner’s death.

  • John Crawford III

    Mothers who have lost sons due to police action, including Tressa Sherrod (R), mother of 22-year-old John Crawford III, attend a press conference calling for police accountability and reform on Capitol Hill in Washington on Dec. 10, 2014.
    Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images Mothers who have lost sons due to police action, including Tressa Sherrod (R), mother of 22-year-old John Crawford III, attend a press conference calling for police accountability and reform on Capitol Hill in Washington on Dec. 10, 2014.

    Aug. 5, 2014 John Crawford III, 22, is shot inside a Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio, after picking up an air rifle from the shelf. While police say they repeatedly asked Crawford, who was black, to drop the gun, surveillance video shows that police shot the man soon after approaching him.

  • Michael Brown

    Demonstrators autograph a drawing of Michael Brown during a protest against the fatal police shooting, in Atlanta on Aug. 18, 2014.
    David Goldman—AP Demonstrators autograph a drawing of Michael Brown during a protest against the fatal police shooting, in Atlanta on Aug. 18, 2014.

    Aug. 9, 2014 Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson, Mo., police officer, fatally shoots unarmed 18-yearold Michael Brown, setting off months of unrest in the St. Louis area. Protests erupted nationwide in November, when Wilson was not indicted in Brown’s death. But the shooting prompted a Justice Department investigation of the Ferguson Police Department. In March, after the scathing report found instances of overt racism among officers and a pattern of arrests targeting black residents, Ferguson’s police chief and city manager resigned.

  • Levar Jones

    Sept. 4, 2014 Levar Jones, 35, is shot multiple times by 31-year-old Sean Groubert, a white South Carolina state trooper, seconds after being stopped for a seat-belt violation, all of which was caught on the officer’s dash cam. Jones, who was black and unarmed, survived and can be heard on a video asking, “Why did you shoot me?” Groubert was later fired and charged with assault and battery, which carries a sentence of 20 years in prison. A verdict is expected later this year.

  • Tamir Rice

    Demonstrators protest the fatal police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice block Public Square in Cleveland on Nov. 25, 2014.
    Tony Dejak—AP Demonstrators protest over the shooting death of Tamir Rice in Public Square in Cleveland on Nov. 25, 2014.

    Nov. 22, 2014 Tamir Rice, 12, is fatally shot and killed in a Cleveland park after police responded to a 911 call reporting a person with a gun. The caller warned that the gun may have been fake, but the officers say they didn’t know that. Officer Timothy Loehmann shot Rice within seconds of arriving on the scene. Rice’s gun turned out to have been a toy. A group of political and religious leaders have called for criminal charges to be brought against the officers involved, and a grand jury plans to hear evidence in the case.

  • Rumain Brisbon

    The daughter of Rumain Brisbon (L) begins crying as she kneels in prayer at a vigil for her father who was fatally shot by police, in Phoenix, Ariz. on Dec. 8, 2014.
    Deanna Dent—Reuters The daughter of Rumain Brisbon (L) begins crying as she kneels in prayer at a vigil for her father who was fatally shot by police, in Phoenix, Ariz. on Dec. 8, 2014.

    Dec. 2, 2014 Rumain Brisbon, 34, is shot and killed by a Phoenix police officer following a drug-related traffic stop in which Brisbon, who was black, fled, refused arrest and appeared to be reaching for a weapon. Brisbon was shot by Mark Rine, a 30-year-old white officer. The incident set off several demonstrations in downtown Phoenix. On April 1, a Maricopa County attorney announced that criminal charges would not be brought against Rine.

  • Charly “Africa” Leundeu Keunang

    People pay their respects at an ever-growing makeshift memorial where a homeless man known as "Africa" who was shot by police, in Los Angeles on March 3, 2015.
    Frederic J. Brown—AFP/Getty Images People pay their respects at an ever-growing makeshift memorial where a homeless man known as "Africa" who was shot by police, in Los Angeles on March 3, 2015.

    March 1, 2015 Los Angeles police officers shoot and kill a black homeless man named Charly “Africa” Leundeu Keunang, following a confrontation in the city’s Skid Row, an area with a heavy concentration of homeless people. Officers said the man attempted to take one of their guns.

  • Naeschylus Vinzant

    Xiaxong Carter, 10, daughter of Naeschylus Vinzant, wipes away a tear while she holds onto her mother, Laneisha Butler during a protest against the fatal police shooting of her father, in Aurora, Colo. on March 11, 2015.
    Brent Lewis—Denver Post/Getty Images Xiaxong Carter, 10, daughter of Naeschylus Vinzant, wipes away a tear while she holds onto her mother, Laneisha Butler during a protest against the fatal police shooting of her father, in Aurora, Colo. on March 11, 2015.

    March 6, 2015 Naeschylus Vinzant, a 37-yearold unarmed black man, is shot in the chest and killed by Paul Jerothe, a police officer in Aurora, Colo. At the time of the shooting, Vinzant was violating his parole and had removed his ankle bracelet. He also had a violent criminal history but was unarmed as officers tried to arrest him. Jerothe, a SWAT team medic officer, has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

  • Tony Robinson

    Demonstrators prepare to march in protest against the fatal police shooting of Tony Robinson in Madison, Wis. on March 11, 2015.
    Michael P. King—AP Demonstrators prepare to march in protest against the fatal police shooting of Tony Robinson in Madison, Wis. on March 11, 2015.

    March 6, 2015 Tony Robinson, a 19-year-old biracial man, is shot by a white Madison, Wis., police officer after Robinson was allegedly jumping in and out of traffic. Matt Kenny, a 45-year-old officer who was exonerated in a 2007 shooting of an African-American man, got into an altercation with Robinson when he entered an apartment in which Robinson was reportedly acting aggressively. Kenny, who says he was attacked by Robinson, was placed on administrative leave with pay pending the results of an investigation.

  • Anthony Hill

    Protesters carry a photo of Anthony Hill while marching through the street demonstrating Hill's shooting death by a police officer in Decatur, Ga. on March 11, 2015.
    David Goldman—AP Protesters carry a photo of Anthony Hill while marching through the street demonstrating Hill's shooting death by a police officer in Decatur, Ga. on March 11, 2015.

    March 9, 2015 Anthony Hill, a black 27-yearold Air Force veteran, is shot and killed in Chamblee, Ga., by Robert Olsen, a white DeKalb County Police Department officer. Hill was naked and unarmed at the time of the incident and was apparently knocking on multiple apartment doors inside a housing complex. Olsen has been placed on leave. An investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is currently under way.

  • Walter Scott

    People participate in a rally to protest the death of Walter Scott, who was killed by police in a shooting, outside City Hall in North Charleston, S.C. on April 8, 2015.
    Richard Ellis—Getty Images People participate in a rally to protest the death of Walter Scott, who was killed by police in a shooting, outside City Hall in North Charleston, S.C. on April 8, 2015.

    April 4, 2015 Walter Scott, a 50-year-old black man, is shot and killed as he’s apparently fleeing North Charleston officer Michael Slager, 33. Slager, who is white, alleges that Scott reached for his Taser. A video recorded by a bystander appears to show Scott running away from the officer as he’s shot in the back eight times.

TIME Crime

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Probably Won’t End Up in Massachusetts

A life sentence would likely take him to Colorado while death row would be in Indiana

The federal jury that found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty on all 30 counts in the Boston Marathon bombing Wednesday is now set to decide whether he should get the death penalty — but he’s unlikely to end up in the state of Massachusetts.

A death sentence would see Tsarnaev sent to the Midwest, while a sentence of life imprisonment would most likely send him to a supermax prison in Colorado.

If Tsarnaev is sentenced to death, he’ll sit on death row in Indiana. The federal government has executed only three inmates in the last 50 years: Timothy McVeigh, who was convicted in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing; Juan Raul Garza, a reputed drug trafficker convicted of killing three people; and Louis Jones, a Gulf War veteran who kidnapped, raped and murdered a woman on a military base. All of them were executed in the last 15 years, and each execution took place at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., the only location where the federal government carries out capital punishment in the U.S.

If Tsarnaev is given a life sentence, however, he could end up at one of a number of supermax facilities around the U.S., says Harvard University law professor Carol Steiker. The most likely is ADX Florence in Colorado, the federal government’s only supermax facility, nicknamed the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.”

The Colorado prison was designed to hold inmates like Terry Nichols, a co-conspirator in the Oklahoma City bombing, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and domestic terrorist Eric Rudolph—all individuals the government feared could pose a potential threat while in custody.

Steiker says it will be up to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to choose where to hold Tsarnaev if he’s given life. North Carolina’s Butner Federal Correctional Institution, which holds Omar Abdel-Rahman—convicted on charges of conspiracy stemming from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York—is also a possibility. The federal jail in Massachusetts where he is currently being held, FMC Devens, is designed mainly for male inmates requiring mental or medical care.

It’s far from clear whether a jury made up of residents of Massachusetts, which abolished the death penalty in 1984, will decide on a death sentence for Tsarnaev. Although jurors were chosen on their willingness to vote for the death penalty, most polls show Massachusetts residents to be majority anti-capital punishment.

While a Boston Globe poll in July found that 62% of respondents supported the federal government in seeking the death penalty for Tsarnaev, another poll by the newspaper in September found that 57% of respondents actually supported a life sentence for Tsarnaev. Only a third at the time said they favored the death penalty.

MORE: Boston Bombing Survivor: Either Sentence is Too Good for Tsarnaev

Massachusetts is also considered the most Catholic state in the country, with almost one in two residents identifying with the faith. The Catholic Church opposes the death penalty, and in the last few days, Catholic leaders around the state have publicly favored a life sentence. At least one Boston Marathon bombing victim has come out in favor of sparing Tsarnaev the death penalty, according to The New York Times.

TIME Crime

Texas to Execute Inmate as Lethal Injection Drug Supply Dwindles

Kent Sprouse, 42, is scheduled for lethal injection on April 9, 2015, for killing a police officer and another man outside a gas station convenience store about 20 miles south of Dallas.
AP Kent Sprouse, 42, is scheduled for lethal injection on April 9, 2015, for killing a police officer and another man outside a gas station convenience store about 20 miles south of Dallas.

The state has enough pentobarbital for four more executions

Texas plans to carry out its first execution Thursday since obtaining a new batch of lethal injection drugs in March.

Kent Sprouse, who killed a police officer and another man in 2002 outside a convenience store near Dallas, is scheduled to be put to death at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Last month, Texas announced it had enough lethal injection drugs to carry out Sprouse’s execution but would need an additional supply to carry out three more executions scheduled in April. But within weeks, the state said it had obtained another batch of the drug, pentobarbital. At the time, The Guardian reported that Texas purchased the batch “from a licensed pharmacy that has the ability to compound.”

In the last few years, states with the death penalty have been forced to turn to compounding pharmacies, which are unregulated by the federal government, to obtain lethal injection drugs, as a number of pharmaceutical companies have elected not to sell drugs for lethal injections. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice keeps the identity of its drug suppliers secret over fears that public pressure on participating pharmacies would limit the state’s ability to carry out executions.

MORE: Lethal Injection Execution Halted in Texas

In March, both the American Pharmacists Association and the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists urged their members not to sell drugs for use in capital punishment. But that decision isn’t binding, and it’s unclear how effective it will be on member pharmacies.

Sprouse’s execution will be the 11th in the U.S. this year and the fifth in Texas, which has executed more inmates—522—than any other state since 1976. The state has another three executions scheduled for May and June but has yet to obtain enough drugs to carry them out, according to Jason Clark, a Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesperson.

TIME Crime

What to Know About the South Carolina Cop Accused of Murdering Walter Scott

He was previously accused of using a Taser unnecessarily, though he was cleared

The South Carolina police officer who was charged with murdering a black man had previously been praised for using “great officer safety tactics,” though he was also the subject of a complaint over excessive force, according to documents from the local police department.

Michael Slager, 33, a patrolman 1st class for the North Charleston Police Department, was arrested Tuesday for fatally shooting 50-year-old Walter Scott after Scott fled following a traffic stop. Slager was subsequently fired from his job.

Slager was “very enthused” about his work and supervisors said he “kept calm” when dealing with suspects, according to police documents from Slager’s early days on the job in 2010, obtained by TIME and initially reported by NBC News.

But Slager also received two complaints during his time with the police force, one in January 2015 for failing to file a police report and another in September 2013 when he allegedly used his Taser unnecessarily against a suspect, documents show. In the Taser incident, Slager was accused of pulling a man from his home, shooting him with a Taser and slamming him to the ground, though the man claimed he had agreed to come outside peacefully, documents show.

Slager was cleared in the Taser incident. The outcome of the complaint on failure to file a police report complaint was not immediately clear.

Slager passed all his exams with the police department, obtaining a perfect Taser certification score and completing an annual training that including subjects like ethics and “bias base profiling,” documents show.

Before applying to the police department, Slager worked as a waiter and later worked for the U.S. Coast Guard.

Slager was denied bond at a brief court appearance Tuesday evening and was being held at the Charleston County Jail, the New York Times reports. He has two stepchildren and is expecting another child in May, he said at the court appearance.

Slager was initially represented by attorney David Aylor, but Aylor withdrew from the case on Wednesday.

“This is a terrible tragedy that has impacted our community,” Aylor said in a statement.

Previously, Aylor had been quoted saying that Slager had “no disciplinary issues” with the police department.

There have been three other recent police-related shootings in South Carolina involving white officers and unarmed black suspects. On Feb. 9, 2014, in North Augusta, S.C., Ernest Satterwhite, a 68-year-old black man, was shot and killed during a traffic stop following a 9-mile slow-speed chase by Justin Craven, a 25-year-old white officer. On Tuesday, the same day Slager was indicted, Craven was charged with a felony for discharging his gun into an occupied vehicle.

On Sept. 4, 2014, in Columbia, S.C., Levar Jones, a 35-year-old black man, was shot multiple times by 31-year-old Sean Groubert, a white South Carolina state trooper, seconds after being stopped for a seatbelt violation. The incident was caught on Groubert’s dash cam. Jones, who was unarmed, survived. Groubert was fired and charged with assault and battery. His trial will likely start later this year.

Also, in March 2011, white Eutawville Police Chief Richard Combs shot and killed Bernard Bailey, who was black and unarmed, following an argument in the Town Hall parking lot. A judge declared a mistrial in January 2015.

As of March 2015, South Carolina police had been involved in 209 shooting incidents over the last five years. None have been convicted, according to The State.

TIME Crime

South Carolina Police Shooting Renews Calls for Body Cameras

Video appears to show the officer firing eight shots as the man flees

A white police officer in South Carolina was charged with murder Tuesday in the videotaped shooting death of a 50-year-old black man who appeared to be unarmed and fleeing.

The graphic video, said to have been recorded Saturday by a bystander and released Tuesday, appears to show North Charleston officer Michael Slager shooting Walter Scott eight times in the back following an earlier incident, in which Slager stopped Scott over a broken taillight, The Post and Courier reports. Scott had a warrant out for his arrest and apparently tried to take the officer’s stun gun; the officer said that he feared for his life.

Saturday’s shooting follows several high-profile incidents in Ferguson and New York City last year in which white officers were involved in the deaths of unarmed black men. Those cases, as well as the decisions by grand juries not to indict the officers involved, spurred nationwide calls for police departments to adopt body cameras that would record confrontations between citizens and police while possibly altering officers’ behavior. While some officials believe body cameras won’t effectively prevent incidents like Scott’s shooting, some police departments have appeared to show success using them, including in Rialto, Calif., which found a reduction in officer complaints and use of force incidents when using cameras.

“If we don’t act and act with expediency, these types of incidents will continue to happen,” State Representative Wendell Gilliard, who has sponsored two bills related to body cameras in the state, told TIME on Tuesday. One would set up a task force to determine the cost of outfitting police with body cameras while another would mandate all officers statewide to wear them. Both have failed to get out of committee and could face a potential veto from Republican Governor Nikki Haley.

Gilliard and State Senator Marlon Kimpson, who has also sponsored a body camera bill, are calling for the legislature to take up the issue again. Rep. Gilliard says he will urge the House’s judicial committee to move the bill to the floor when the legislature reconvenes next week.

Read next: South Carolina Officer Faces Murder Charge After Video Shows Man’s Shooting Death

TIME Environment

California’s Water Crisis By the Numbers

California Drought Rice Harvest
Rich Pedroncelli—AP Rice harvested by Mike DeWitt is loaded into trucks near Davis, Calif., Oct. 10, 2014. DeWitt is among the Sacramento Valley farmers who planted 25 percent less rice than normal because of water cutbacks.

Almost two-thirds of water is used for agriculture — but Gov. Jerry Brown's measures apply mainly to urban areas

California Governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday imposed historic water controls on the drought-stricken state. But who will the burden of conserving water fall upon? Here, nine numbers that explain the new measures:

The amount by which cities and towns across the state must reduce water use under Brown’s new regulations. That would total about 487.5 billion gallons of water over the next nine months.

50 million square feet
The area of lawns throughout the state to be replaced by “drought tolerant landscaping,” in partnership with local governments. The plan will also require university campuses, golf courses and cemeteries to make “significant cuts” in water use, Brown said.

38 billion gallons
The amount of water used every day throughout California according to 2010 estimates, more than any other state in the country.

The average share of water consumption in the U.S. that goes toward domestic purposes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, such as washing dishes or drinking water.

80-100 gallons
The amount of water the average American goes through a day, much of it in the bathroom, according to the USGS. Showers use on average two to two-and-a-half gallons per minute. A full tub holds an estimated 36 gallons. Washing your hands and face take a gallon, while toilet flushes in older models use three gallons. (Newer ones use closer to one and a half.) Washers also go through a significant amount of water: about 25 gallons a load in newer models.

70 gallons
The amount of water used by San Francisco Bay Area residents after Brown asked Californians to voluntarily reduce water use by 20%. Some in Southern California continued to use some 300 gallons a day on amenities such as lawns and swimming pools.

The possible daily fine for those of California’s 400 local water agencies who fail to meet the governor’s 25% target.

The average share of the nation’s water that is used for agricultural purposes, including irrigation and livestock (Another 17.4% goes to thermoelectric power plants). In California that share is about 80%.

Number of California farms and ranches, which produced $21 billion in agricultural exports in 2013, according to the California Department of Food & Agriculture, including $7.6 billion in milk and $5.8 billion in almonds. More than 400 different crops and commodities are grown in the state, accounting for 14.7% total U.S. agricultural exports. The measures announced by Governor Brown on Wednesday do not apply to the agriculture industry.


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