Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

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…

Widodo Earns Indonesian Approval for Death Penalty Stance

Indonesian President Joko Widodo
The majority of Indonesians say they support President Joko Widodo's decision to enforce the death penalty for drug traffickers, according to a survey released amid appeals for clemency from several death row drug convicts.

Jakarta-based survey agency Indo Barometer found that almost 85% of survey respondents said they support Mr. Widodo's firm stance on the death penalty, while more than 84% of respondents said they agreed with the death penalty for drug traffickers and dealers. Indonesia's penal code lists death as the maximum sentence for the production, import/export or sale of category one narcotics, which include opium, heroin and marijuana.

The reason the majority of people surveyed (60.8%) gave for supporting the death penalty for drug offenses was because they believe that drugs ruin young people, said Indo Barometer's executive director Muhammad Qodari. Almost 24% of them said that capital punishment would provide a deterrent effect.

"Indonesians see that drugs now reach so many areas; areas that they haven't thought before, such as schools," Mr. Qodari said.

President Widodo has repeatedly denied requests for clemency from Australia and several other countries with citizens on death row in Indonesia, saying he is trying to combat a drug emergency in his country.

On Monday Jakarta's high administrative court rejected a final appeal effort from Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, saying clemency is the prerogative of the president.

The 2 men are among 10 convicted drug smugglers whose executions were delayed last month because of judicial challenges by 6 inmates seeking to appeal Mr. Widodo's clemency rejections.

The international community and celebrities have also called on Mr. Widodo to reconsider his decision, but Mr. Qodari said international pressure hardly affects Indonesian public opinion.

In fact, he said, it helps strengthen feelings of nationalism that benefit Mr. Widodo.

In the same survey released Monday, Indo Barometer found that the president's approval rating after almost 6 months in office was 57.5% - higher than a January survey by the Indonesia Survey Circle, which found only 42% of Indonesians said were satisfied with the president's performance.

Mr. Qodari said the death penalty policy definitely contributed positively to the president's approval rating.

Aside from drug trafficking, 53% of survey respondents said they were in favor of the death sentence for corruption, murder (16.3%) and sexual crimes (4.25%). Corruption and sexual crimes are not currently punishable by death.

Indo Barometer's survey was conducted through face-to-face interviews of 1,200 people from March 15 to 25 in all Indonesia's 34 provinces.

Polls show Indonesians favour clemency for Chan and Sukumaran

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran leave Kerobokan prison.
THE majority of Indonesians believe that Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran should not be executed, according to polls in the country’s two major English language newspapers.

The most recent poll in the Jakarta Globe today shows that in a poll of 6,600 people, over 80 per cent believe the Bali Nine duo should be granted clemency, with 18 per cent against while a poll in the Jakarta Post last week had similar results.

The convicted drug smugglers are making their last, terrible journey to Nusakambangan Island, their place of execution, regardless of an ongoing legal appeal and despite the best efforts of Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to save the men’s lives.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has rejected calls for clemency for Chan and Sukumaran and appears to have snubbed the Foreign Minister over the duo's transfer. Ms Bishop says she was “dismayed” to learn the two men had been transferred and said there had been no official confirmation from Indonesian officials that a transfer was going to take place.

Indonesians have reacted with similar dismay: the Jakarta Globe and the Jakarta Post have both run strongly worded opinion pieces condemning Mr Joko’s stance.

The Jakarta Post yesterday called for a national referendum on capital punishment, which it said would “give the perfect pretext for the government to stop all executions for now.”

The Post pointed out: “Jokowi, or his diplomats, should have handled the dispute more tactfully. Instead, they are showing an easy and fast way of losing friends ... a moratorium on executions would save Jokowi from making the biggest mistake of his presidency. “

Last week, the Jakarta Globe criticised Mr Joko for exploiting the executions “to look tough in the midst of a leadership crisis”.

“People on death row will be shot for the sake of macho posturing,” The Globe wrote. ”Now’s the time to stop without losing face. Message delivered, Mr. President. We get it, the whole world does: You mean business. Now knock it off.”

Readers’ comments also reflect concern: thesuperraj wrote on The Jakarta Post website:

“I was happy when Widodo was elected ... i thought it was good Indonesia has Widodo ... WRONG !!”.

beaujandals wrote: “This week (sic) little morally bankrupt poor excuse of a man Jakowi has just set Indonesia back a couple of decades. Here is an idiot that has just thrown you into the dark ages! And will probably have to answer to the UN as he is (in) breach of international law. This is his lack of understanding the complexity of being a statesman and why he is without qualification for the office he holds.”

Meanwhile, a senior prosecutor with the Attorney General’s Office in Jakarta who has led three executions of death row convicts said the role was nothing to be proud of while Mobile Brigade (Brimob) chief Brigadier General Robby Kaligis, who has also been part of a firing squad, described the experience as “terrifying.”

“I don’t want to remember that part of my life,” he told The Jakarta Post.

Source: The Australian, March 4, 2015

Related article:
- Indonesia must clean its house first, AsiaOne, Zubaidah Nazeer, The Straits Times, March 17, 2015. Some critics have suggested that the execution of drug dealers by firing squad is a way of distracting the public from these domestic weaknesses, by creating the image of a tough president staving off international pressure. But after the reports of the firing squad's guns have died down, President Joko Widodo will still have to face the deep-seated problems in his law enforcement agencies - both the corruption and the deficiencies...

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