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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 executes first three prisoners since 2010

Execution chamber
at Tokyo Detention Center
Japan has hanged three death row inmates in its first executions since July 2010.

Reports said the unnamed prisoners, hanged in separate prisons, had all been convicted of multiple murders.

Japan is one of the few advanced industrialised nations to retain the death penalty. It is usually reserved for multiple murders.

Though the majority support the death penalty, rights groups say Japan's death row is particularly harsh.

"Today, three executions were carried out," Justice Minister Toshio Ogawa said. "I have carried out my duty as a justice minister as stipulated by law."

There are currently more than 100 people on death row, including Shoko Asahara, the mastermind behind the 1995 sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway. No executions were carried out in 2011.

Official figures in Japan as of 2011 put support for capital punishment at over 80%.

But rights groups like Amnesty International have called for it to be abolished, saying the condemned have few visits, little exercise and are forced to spend almost all of their time sitting down in their cells.

Sometimes held for decades, they are not warned in advance of when they will be put to death, meaning they fear every day is their last, the BBC's Roland Buerk reports.

Source: BBC News, March 29, 2012

Related articles:
Feb 01, 2012
Toshio Ogawa is the first justice minister to tacitly support capital punishment since the Democratic Party of Japan came to power in September 2009 and has no intention of engaging in the debate over whether to end the...
Jan 19, 2012
OGAWA Toshio, who was appointed Minister of Justice on 13 January, has said that he intends to resume executions. Last year Japan did not carry out any executions, for the first time in 19 years. The estimated 130 death row ...

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