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California: With state executions on hold, death penalty foes rethink ballot strategy

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California advocates of abolishing the death penalty got a jolt of momentum in March, when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he would not allow any executions to take place while he was in office.
But after trying twice this decade to persuade voters to end capital punishment, they have no plans to go to the ballot again in 2020. Rather than seeking to build on Newsom’s temporary reprieve for Death Row inmates, activists are taking their own pause.
Grappling with the legacy of their two failed initiatives, advocates are reassessing their strategy and retooling their message. Natasha Minsker, a political consultant who has long been involved with abolition efforts, said the governor’s moratorium has given advocates the opportunity to do long-term planning.
“There’s this excitement and energy in our movement that we haven’t had in a long time,” Minsker said.
Newsom’s executive order caught many Californians by surprise. Although he supported the unsuccessful ballot measures to abolish t…

Japan: many death-row inmates on meds

Execution chamber
at Tokyo's Detention Center
December 30, 2011: Nearly half of death row inmates in Japan are on full-time medication for mental stress, the Justice Ministry said.

A ministry official said 56 of 124 inmates on death row have complained of psychological symptoms such as insomnia and hallucinations and have been continuously treated with drugs, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

Such symptoms can occur because of confinement in closed spaces for a long period of time, and since some inmates have been detained for more than 30 years it is suspected the symptoms are the result of their lengthy detention, experts said.

Under Japanese law, if a death row inmate is diagnosed as insane, the justice minister will order the suspension of the execution.

However, a high-ranking ministry official has said no inmates currently on death row have been so diagnosed.

"As far as we could tell, there are no death row inmates who are insane," the official said.

Source: UPI, December 30, 2011

Related article:
Sep 10, 2009
According to Japan's code of criminal procedure, if a person condemned to death is in a state of insanity, the execution shall be stayed by the justice minister. But, Amnesty says, executions of inmates who exhibit signs of...

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