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…

Vietnam may stop punishing drug, war crimes by death

The government has proposed abolishing the death penalty for 7 crimes at a parliament session in Hanoi on Wednesday.

The crimes are robbery, vandalizing equipment and works significant to national security, gross disturbances of public order, surrendering to enemy forces, acts of sabotage and waging invasive wars, crimes against humanity, and drug trafficking.

The proposal is part of amendments to the Penal Code, which are going to be discussed at the ongoing session and voted on in November.

The Vietnamese Penal Code currently recognizes 22 crimes as punishable by death. That number was progressively scaled back from the original list issued in 1985, following amendments made in 1999 and 2009.

According to Tran Van Do, former vice chief of the Supreme People's Court, Vietnam's courts sentence about 200 people to death every year.

Vietnam switched to lethal injection from firing squad in 2011.

Minister of Justice Ha Hung Cuong, who presented the new amendments, said there are still controversies around the proposal involving death penalty.

Some people also proposed removing crimes of producing fake food and medicine, embezzlement and receiving bribe from the death penalty list.

"The government recognizes that there should be an unyielding fight against corruption. Many measures have been taken to no avail."

Removing corruption from the list could lead to misconception that the law is lenient to corrupt officials, he said.

Cuong said the government has also proposed life imprisonment without parole for the first time in Vietnam's legal system.

Source: Thanh Nien News, May 21, 2015

Many Vietnamese lawmakers back abolition of death penalty for 7 crimes

The proposal that capital punishment be scrapped for seven crimes under the current Penal Code has been supported by many Vietnamese legislators.

On the 1st working day of the 9th session of the 13th National Assembly (NA) that opened in Hanoi on Wednesday, Minister of Justice Ha Hung Cuong presented to the law-making body the proposed amendments to the Penal Code for discussion.

1 of them is the abolition of the death penalty for 7 crimes, including plundering property, destroying important national security works and/or facilities; disobeying orders in the military; surrendering to the enemy, which is applicable in the army; undermining peace, provoking aggressive wars; crimes against mankind; and war crimes.

Reducing death sentences is Vietnam's major policy that is reflected in recent resolutions on justice reform and the practice of criminal legislation, Minister Cuong said.

Many members of the NA Justice Committee and other lawmakers have agreed to the proposed amendment.

The Radio the Voice of Vietnam (VOV) quoted Nguyen Van Hien, chair of the NA Justice Committee, as saying his committee approves of the view that capital punishment should alleviated by cutting the number of crimes subject to death sentences, promulgating regulations that help minimize the application of the death penalty, and extending the list of defendants who are condemned to death but do not have their sentence carried out.

Tran Du Lich, deputy head of the delegation of lawmakers from Ho Chi Minh City, said that death sentences should be cut down but there should be a regulation on crimes subject to life imprisonment without parole.

If the NA approves this proposal, the number of crimes subject to the death penalty in Vietnam will be lowered to 15 from the current 22.

A number of deputies said capital punishment should be retained for the charges of undermining peace, provoking aggressive wars, crimes against mankind, and war crimes, as these top the list of the most serious counts.

Regarding some suggestions on abrogating capital punishment for 2 corruption crimes: embezzlement and bribe acceptance, Minister Cuong said the government's policy is that the death penalty should be maintained for those convicted of corruption as the highest sanction.

"We are uncompromisingly combating corruption. Many measures have been taken but they have yet to prove effective. Therefore, a proposal for death sentences be scrapped for these 2 crimes, which are the most serious among corruption charges, is not appropriate for the time being," the minister underlined.

As for another suggested amendment that defendants aged 70 or older should be exempted from capital punishment, Hien said most members of the NA Justice Committee have rejected it, VOV reported.

In reality people at this age can commit serious - even extremely serious - crimes and they can be the mastermind behind criminal organizations, Hien said.

If the government spares people of such age the death penalty, they could make use of the exemption to avoid punishment by law after committing serious crimes, he added.

According to the agenda of the 9th session of the NA, the amendments to the Penal Code will be discussed in groups of delegates on May 28 and in a plenary meeting on June 16.

VnExpress said the amendments will be submitted to the NA for consideration in its next session in November 2015.

Source: Tuoi Tre News, May 21, 2015

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