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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…

Bali Nine mule to get sentence reduction

Renae Lawrence
Renae Lawrence
Indonesian prison officials have recommended Bali Nine drug mule Renae Lawrence has a further two months cut from her sentence.

Lawrence, 37, is serving her 20-year sentence in Bali's Bangli Prison, where staff confirmed she had been put forward as one of the inmates to have their sentence reduced for good behaviour as a reward this Christmas.

Prison officials say the former Newcastle woman is focused on being a diligent prisoner, and applies herself to classes in handicrafts.

Earlier this year, Indonesia executed Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, other members of the nine young Australians who tried to smuggle drugs through Bali in 2005.

The other members are all serving life sentences and not eligible for sentence cuts.

It will be the 10th Christmas in prison for Martin Stephens, Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, Michael Czugaj, Matthew Norman, Si Yi Chen and Scott Rush.

At Kerobokan jail, a spokesman said Australian inmates Nicholas Langan and Edward Myatt had been recommended for 15 days and one month remission, respectively.

Langan, a north Queensland tradesman, is due for release next month, after serving a year in custody for smoking a joint of marijuana on a Bali beach.

Myatt, from Ballarat, Victoria, was jailed in 2012 for eight years, for smuggling methamphetamine.

Source: AAP, December 24, 2015

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