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'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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Texas is seeking to speed up executions with a renewed request to opt-in to a federal law that would shorten the legal process and limit appeals options for death-sentenced prisoners.
Defense attorneys worry it would lead to the execution of innocent people and - if it's applied retroactively, as Texas is requesting - it could potentially end ongoing appeals for a number of death row prisoners and make them eligible for execution dates.
"Opt-in would speed up the death penalty treadmill exponentially," said Kathryn Kase, an longtime defense attorney and former executive director of Texas Defender Services.
But a state attorney general spokeswoman framed the request to the Justice Department as a necessary way to avoid "stressful delays" and cut down on the "excessive costs" of lengthy federal court proceedings.
Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp movement, says sweeping changes to laws in recent years have dissuaded attorneys from taking on har…

8 Hanged On Christmas Eve in Northern Iran; 26 Hanged between Dec. 22 and 24

Iran Human Rights, December 25, 2015: Two prisoners were hanged in the Ghezelhesar prison of Karaj (west of Tehran) on December 23, according to Iran Human Rights (IHR) sources in Iran.

The prisoners were identified as "Mehdi Khorram" and "Ebrahim Khorram" and were in their 30's. Both the prisoners were convicted of drug offences and were held in Unit 2 of Ghezelhesar prison.

IHR has received pictures of the prisoners. Iranian authorities have not announced the executions yet.

Several thousand prisoners sentenced to death for drug offences are held in the Ghezelhesar prison.

Iran Human Rights, December 25, 2015: Eight prisoners were hanged in the prison of Qazvin, northwest of Tehran, reported the official website of the Iranian Judiciary in Qazvin.

The prisoners were all convicted of drug offences and hanged on 24. December. Seven of the prisoners were identified as "Sajjad H.", "Ali B.", "Maher B.", "Habib M.", "Hossein A.", "Vahid A." and "Rahim K.M.".

Eight other prisoners were hanged in the same prison two days earlier on December 22. In 2015, several hudred prisoners have been executed in Iran for drug-related charges.

Despite this, the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) recently signed a new cooperation agreement on fighting the drug trafficking with Iran.

Iran Human Rights (DEC 24 2015): Eight men with alleged drug charges were reportedly hanged at Qazvin Central Prison on the morning of Tuesday December 23.

According to the press department of the Judiciary in the province of Qazvin, quoting the Public Prosecutor of Qazvin city, the prisoners are: M.Rahnama, 35 years old; M. Faryab, 38 years old; Haj Rafiee, 40 years old; A. Bagharzadeh, 33 years old; B. Chekanloo, 35 years old; S. Kalhor, 31 years old; A. Habibzadeh, 29 years old; and Gh. Moradi, 38 years old.

A day earlier at Qazvin Central Prison, Iranian authorities hanged "A. Fallah", a man accused of murder and sentenced to death.

Earlier in the month, 70 Iranian MPs presented a proposal to Parliament calling for an end to the death penalty for unarmed drug offenders.

Source: Iran Human Rights, December 24-25, 2015

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