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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…

Wanted: Sri Lanka hangman. Very light work. Only males need apply

(Reuters) - Sri Lanka on Tuesday began interviews for the post of hangman a year after two positions fell vacant, with at least 480 convicts on death row.

But it was not quite clear how the two successful candidates would fill their days - the death penalty has not been used in Sri Lanka, a predominantly Buddhist country, since 1976.

"About 176 applicants are there and interviews are going on today and tomorrow," Gamini Kulatunga, commissioner operations at the Prisons Department, told Reuters. "Only males will be eligible for the post."

The two posts fell vacant after one hangman was promoted and the other retired.

At least 480 people convicted of murder and drugs offences could potentially be executed, Kulatunga said.

There has been an alarming rise in child abuse, rapes, murders, and drug trafficking since the 25-year war against Tamil Tiger separatists ended in May 2009, prompting some lawyers and politicians to push for the death penalty to be reintroduced.

Source: Reuters, August 28, 2012

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