Race to Death: A Critical Look at the Death Penalty as Arkansas Executes Eight

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The state of Arkansas plans to execute eight people across ten days this April. Arkansas will attempt to execute two people per day on four days in order to use up their stock of execution drug, midazolam, before its expiration date.

Until now, Arkansas's mark in death penalty history was its execution of Rickey Ray Rector: a man so unable to comprehend his surroundings that he ate his final meal and saved his slice of pecan pie for later. Rector had shot himself in the head after committing his crime, but survived. Legally, the state may not execute a person who does not understand they are about to die. Yet the courts ducked the issue, and another famous Arkansas Governor—Bill Clinton—made sure to be present for Rector's execution even while campaigning for the presidency in 1992.

How an ACA Repeal Would Devastate Appalachia

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The Congressional Budget Office recently released a report assessing the impacts of an ACA repeal on, among other things, the national insurance rate and the cost of healthcare premiums. In that report, the CBO assumed that Congress would enact legislation this year repealing the individual mandate and then, in 2019, the premium tax credits and Medicaid expansion provisions of the statute. Under this scheme, the CBO concluded that the number of uninsured Americans would increase by 18 million in 2018, 27 million in 2020, and 32 million in 2026. In other words, 59 million Americans, or 21 percent of the U.S. population, will be uninsured by 2026 even if the ACA is repealed in piecemeal fashion. The CBO also concluded that a staggered ACA repeal would increase non-group market insurance premiums by 20 to 25 percent in 2018 and 100 percent in 2026. Equally concerning, the bi-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Government recently warned that a full ACA repeal could cost up to $350 billion over the next 10 years.

As dire as these predictions appear, reports indicate that an ACA repeal would work an even more detrimental impact on rural American peoples and economies, including those in Appalachia. Pointing to rural America’s increased mortality rates as well as higher rates of chronic illness, obesity, drug overdose, alcoholism, mental illness, and suicide, Professor Greenwood-Erickson writes: “[t]he health of rural America is failing, and a repeal of the [ACA] without adequate replacement could prove disastrous.”

Alex Jonese, left, and Brad DeFlumeri, right.

West Virginia University College of Law students help disabled veterans

MORGANTOWN – Law students from the West Virginia University College of Law recently helped two disabled Air Force veterans successfully win their cases in the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

The students were part of the Veteran’s Advocacy Clinic (VAC) at West Virginia University, one of nine clinics offered every year at the school to third-year law students. Students apply to the clinics during the spring of their second year in law school.

Veterans Advocacy Clinic Students (from left) Rachel Roush, Brad DeFlumeri, Alex Jonese, C.J. Reid, and Kirsten Lilly pose with United States Marine Corps Veteran Joe Gero (third from left), of Madison, during the students’ visit to VFW Post 5578.

Veterans Advocacy Clinic (VAC) Students Travel to Meet Charleston-Area Veterans

On Monday, January 16, 2017, student clinicians serving in the Veterans Advocacy Clinic (VAC) at the West Virginia University College of Law had the pleasure of travelling to Madison, WV, a small community located approximately 35 miles southwest of Charleston, to meet and exchange ideas with veterans of the Daniel Boone Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 5578, Madison, West Virginia.

The meeting provided the opportunity for the student clinicians to see first-hand some of the issues that West Virginia veterans have with navigating the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits bureaucracy, a system through which the VAC often guides local veterans by representing them on benefits claims and appeals.