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Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

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Update: Robert Pruett was executed by lethal injection on Thursday.
Robert Pruett is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas Thursday. He has never had a chance to live outside a prison as an adult. Taking his life is a senseless wrong that shows how badly the justice system fails juveniles.
Mr. Pruett was 15 years old when he last saw the outside world, after being arrested as an accomplice to a murder committed by his own father. Now 38, having been convicted of a murder while incarcerated, he will be put to death. At a time when the Supreme Court has begun to recognize excessive punishments for juveniles as unjust, Mr. Pruett’s case shows how young lives can be destroyed by a justice system that refuses to give second chances.
Mr. Pruett’s father, Sam Pruett, spent much of Mr. Pruett’s early childhood in prison. Mr. Pruett and his three siblings were raised in various trailer parks by his mother, who he has said used drugs heavily and often struggled to feed the children. Wh…

Afghanistan: Death sentence commuted for murderer of German photographer Niedringhaus

March 28, 2015: The death sentence for the police officer who murdered German photographer Anja Niedringhaus in Afghanistan last April has been commuted. 

The country's highest court has ruled he serve 20 years jail instead, AP says.

The Associated Press - which Anja Niedringhaus worked for - reported that the country's Supreme Court decided the Afghan police officer should spend 20 years in jail for the murder, citing court documents sent to Afghanistan's attorney-general.

The sentence for Naqibullah, a former police unit commander, was commuted from the death penalty which a primary court recommended for him last year. He had been convicted of murder and treason.

Naqibullah, who like many in Afghanistan goes by a single name, opened fire on Niedringhaus and veteran AP correspondent Kathy Gannon without warning on April 4, 2014. 

The two were covering the first round of the country's presidential elections. 

Niedringhaus, aged 48, died instantly. Gannon was badly wounded and is still recovering from her injuries in Canada.

"Neither Anja nor I believe in the death penalty," Gannon said upon learning of the ruling. "I know I speak for Anja, as well as for myself, when I say one crazy gunman neither defines a nation nor a people."

Gannon added that it was "a joy" to cover Afghanistan and she was planning to go back there once she had completed her surgeries and healing. "I will return for both of us," she said.

According to Zahid Safi, a lawyer for AP who had been briefed on the decision, 20 years is the maximum prison term in Afghanistan.

Naqibullah was sentenced to death by Afghanistan's primary court last July and an Appeals Court decided in January to commute the punishment to the jail term. That sentence was appealed to Afghanistan's highest court, the Supreme Court, which made the 20-year sentence final, although under Afghan law prison time can be reduced if a prisoner shows "social rehabilitation." 

Source: AP, Hands Off Cain, March 29, 2015

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