Texas: Gov. Abbott should grant death row inmate Rodney Reed a reprieve, before it’s too late

Convicted murderer Rodney Reed is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Nov. 20, but Gov. Greg Abbott has the power to stop it.
As it stands, there’s no indication that Abbott will. He has only stopped one execution since becoming governor 5 years ago.
Reed was sentenced to death in 1998, after being convicted of the brutal 1996 rape and killing of a 19-year-old woman from central Texas, Stacey Stites. And though the governor has yet to weigh in on this specific case, he supports capital punishment, as do most voters in the state. According to a June 2018 poll from the University of Texas/Texas Tribune, fully three-fourths of Texans strongly or somewhat support the death penalty.
But the question at hand has nothing to do with the death penalty, per se. Granting a reprieve would simply be the right thing to do — and a necessary precaution against the doubts that would linger, if Reed is executed as scheduled.
Reed has consistently maintained his innocence, and legitimate questions …

Tigers, Piranhas May Join Indonesia Crocodile Prison Guards

Anti-drugs czar Budi Waseso announced plans to guard a death-row prison island with crocodiles. He now mulls adding tigers and piranha fish.
Anti-drugs czar Budi Waseso announced plans to guard a death-row
prison island with crocodiles. He now mulls adding tigers and piranha fish.
Jakarta. When Indonesia’s anti-drugs czar announced plans to guard a death-row prison island with crocodiles, the government rushed to explain that it was just a joke, but on Friday Budi Waseso said he was now thinking of using tigers and piranha fish too.

Media quoted the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) chief as saying that he had already obtained two crocodiles from a farm to study their power and aggression and may ultimately put as many as 1,000 in place to keep convicts from escaping.

“The number will depend on how big the area is, or whether perhaps to combine them with piranhas,” he told reporters, according to the rimanews.com portal.

“Because the (prison) personnel numbers are short we can use wild animals. We could use tigers too - for conservation at the same time.”

Piranha fish, meat-eaters with sharp teeth and powerful jaws, are indigenous to South America and are not found in Indonesia.

Waseso and officials at his office were not immediately available to comment on the reports.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo declared a war on what he has dubbed a “narcotics emergency” after taking office a year ago, basing his campaign on a study that showed at least 40 people a day were dying from drug use.

He has repeatedly refused clemency to traffickers and more than two dozen, mostly foreign, drug convicts have been executed this year after a five-year moratorium on the death penalty.

In separate comments on the TVOne channel, Waseso rejected critics who said his plans to use animals as jailors were trampling on the human rights of convicts.

“We have to look at the whole problem,” he said. “These people are murderers - mass murderers. Shouldn’t we also look at the human rights of their victims?”

Source: The Jakarta Globe (Reuters), November 13, 2015

Hong Kong drug dealer sentenced to death

International drug syndicate mastermind Wong Chi Ping
International drug syndicate mastermind Wong Chi Ping
Judges at West Jakarta District Court sentenced Hong Kong drug dealer Wong Chi Ping to death on Friday for smuggling hundreds of kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, locally known as sabu-sabu.

Chief judge M. Arifin said that Wong, who also goes by the local name Surya Wijaya, had been found guilty of smuggling 862.6 kilogram of sabu-sabu from the Philippines to Indonesia.

The panel of judges sentenced him to death because he had committed an extraordinary crime that had an impact on the youth of Indonesia.

"The sentence he has received is not based on revenge but a legal enforcement to educate based on fairness," Arifin told the court as quoted by kompas.com.

The court also revealed that Wong had also been involved in an another attempt at smuggling along with someone named Ahyi in China, who remains at large.

Wong smuggled the narcotics from the Philippines to Indonesia by sea. He was abetted by eight accomplices: Ahmad Salim Wijaya, Sujardi, Syarifudin Nurdin, Tam Siu Liung, Siu Cheuk Fung, Tan See Ting, Cheung Hon Ming and Andika.

Four of the members of the syndicate are from Hong Kong, one is Malaysian and four are Indonesians.

The prosecutors had sought death penalty for all nine defendants for violating the 2009 Law on drugs.

Six had previously been sentenced by the West Jakarta District Court. The court sentenced Ahmad to death, while Cheung was sentenced to 20 years in prison and Syarifuddin was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Tan, Siu and Tam were sentenced to life.

Source: The Jakarta Post, November 13, 2015

Suspected Dealer Faces Death Over 5.6 Kilos of Marijuana

Jakarta. A man arrested with 5.6 kilograms of marijuana last week faces charges that carry a maximum sentence of death, police said on Tuesday.

Officers arrested the 42-year-old suspect, identified only by the initials P.M., in Central Jakarta last Wednesday, following a tip from residents.

Adj. Sr. Comr. Roma Hutujulu of the Central Jakarta Police said the suspect was found in possession of six packages of marijuana with a combined weight of 5.6 kilograms.

Roma said the suspect, now in police custody, would face trafficking charges under the 2009 Anti-Narcotics Law, which stipulates a maximum sentence of death.

Source: The Jakarta Globe, November 10, 2015

Drug Traffickers Should Be Punished With Death by Overdose: BNN Chief

Jakarta. The National Narcotics Agency, or BNN, has courted yet another controversy since headed by outspoken police general Budi Waseso, this time for suggesting that drug dealers should be forced to consume all of their confiscated merchandise.

“If they are caught with one [kilogram], they must be forced to consume one kilo,” BNN spokesman Sr. Comr. Slamet Pribadi said as quoted by Tempo.co news portal.

Slamet said Budi was angered by the fact that most arrested drug dealers were not drug users themselves.

“Budi [...] wants drug dealers to consume all the drugs they are caught with. These [drug dealers] are mass murderers,” he said.

Slamet said the BNN is looking for ways to implement the punishment, possibly by revising the current laws on narcotics, which lists the death penalty – usually carried out by firing squad – as a maximum sentence.

Slamet said judges could issue a court order allowing the use of the trafficker's confiscated drugs to carry out the death sentence.

“This is only a suggestion. Every punishment must be implemented according to the law,” he added.

He failed to explain further details of the hairbrained scheme, particularly with regards to the glaring human rights violations it would spark.

The suggestion negates Budi's earlier remarks that drug dealers often pose as addicts, a practice that by law should send them to a rehabilitation facility instead of prison.

Source: The Jakarta Globe, November 5, 2015

Go Easy on Drug Users to Slow Prison Overcrowding, Justice Minister Says

Kerobokan Prison on Bali Island, Indonesia
Kerobokan Prison on Bali Island, Indonesia
Jakarta. Indonesia’s justice minister has bemoaned the level of overcrowding in the country’s penitentiaries, saying more needs to be done to rehabilitate rather than incarcerate drug users, who make up a large portion of the prison population.

“Prisons are supposed to serve a role as a place for redemption,” Minister Yasonna Laoly said at a conference in Bogor on Monday night. “What we would like is for [convicted drug users] to have their sentences commuted, while drug dealers and traffickers get heavier sentences.”

He noted that the country’s 477 prisons, all managed by the Justice Ministry, were severely overcrowded, built to hold 119,500 people but now home to more than 173,000 – leaving them nearly 45 percent over capacity.

Yasonna said casual drug users and addicts accounted for some 18,400 inmates, but that ideally they should be in rehabilitation centers rather than in prison.

“The most humane solution would be to, at one end, work with the police and the BNN” – National Narcotics Agency – “to crack down on drug trafficking, and, at the other end, to help rehabilitate the users currently in prison,” he said.

Indonesia’s notoriously harsh drug laws were amended a few years ago to allow addicts or those caught with small amounts of narcotics for personal consumption to opt for mandatory rehabilitation to avoid criminal charges.

However, that provision remains little-known among the general population, while police, prosecutors and judges tend to favor prosecuting all drug offenders, regardless of the amount of narcotics they are caught with or whether they express a willingness to undergo rehabilitation.

I Wayan Kusmintha, the Justice Ministry’s director general of corrections, who oversees the prison system, identified three factors for the high number of casual drug users behind bars.

First, he said, was the high rate of prosecutions, despite the more lenient provisions in the drug law. “Our justice system tends to be rigid, such that even the most trivial of cases end up in court,” he said.

Second, he went on, was the shortage of juvenile detention centers. Of the nearly 500 penitentiaries nationwide, only 13 are designated for minors, meaning that juvenile offenders in regions without one of these special prisons wind up in regular jails among more hardened adult inmates, where they are at risk of picking up a more serious drug habit, among other things, Kusmintha said.

The third factor he identified as the shortage of rehabilitation centers for drug users.

The Justice Ministry’s more conciliatory approach to handling drug offenders comes in stark contrast to that of the new BNN chief, Budi Waseso, who has called for an end to government funding for rehabilitation centers, and repeatedly branded drug users – whether they reform or not – as “less than human.”

Source: The Jakarta Globe, November 10, 2015

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