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Capital Punishment in the United States Explained

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In our Explainer series, Fair Punishment Project lawyers help unpackage some of the most complicated issues in the criminal justice system. We break down the problems behind the headlines - like bail, civil asset forfeiture, or the Brady doctrine - so that everyone can understand them. Wherever possible, we try to utilize the stories of those affected by the criminal justice system to show how these laws and principles should work, and how they often fail. We will update our Explainers monthly to keep them current. Read our updated explainer here.
To beat the clock on the expiration of its lethal injection drug supply, this past April, Arkansas tried to execute 8 men over 1 days. The stories told in frantic legal filings and clemency petitions revealed a deeply disturbing picture. Ledell Lee may have had an intellectual disability that rendered him constitutionally ineligible for the death penalty, but he had a spate of bad lawyers who failed to timely present evidence of this claim -…

China: Man who spent 11 years on death row compensated 1.27 million yuan

Zeng Aiyun, who spent 11 years on death row before being cleared, visits his mother in July 2015
Zeng Aiyun, who spent 11 years on death row before being cleared,
visits his mother in July 2015. (Shanghai Daily)
A Chinese man condemned to death three times for murder and who spent 11 years on death row before being cleared was awarded 1.27 million yuan ($200,000) compensation, reports said Tuesday.

Zeng Aiyun, once a graduate student at Xiangtan University in the central province of Hunan, was convicted in 2004 of murdering a fellow student and sentenced to die.

The verdict was set aside three times on appeal and new trials ordered, but on the first two retrials in 2005 and 2010 Zeng was again condemned to death.

Finally the Xiangtan Intermediate People's Court exonerated him for lack of evidence at his fourth trial in July.

It awarded him 1.27 million yuan in compensation on Monday, the Xinhua news agency reported.

The court found another student to be the sole killer, it added. 

Chen Huazhang -- previously sentenced to life as Zeng's accomplice -- poisoned the victim out of jealousy, Xinhua said, and laid a false trail to implicate Zeng.

Zeng said he was not satisfied with the compensation and would go back to court once more to seek more, the Beijing Times reported Tuesday.

The case is the latest to highlight the risks of miscarriages of justice in China, where forced confessions are widespread and virtually all criminal defendants are found guilty.

Wrongful executions are not unknown in the country.

In a high-profile case that sparked nationwide public anger, a court in the northern region of Inner Mongolia last year cleared a man named Hugjiltu, who was convicted, sentenced and executed for rape and murder in 1996 at the age of 18.

The declaration of his innocence came nine years after another man confessed to the crime.

China's courts are politically controlled and the Communist Party has pledged to ensure the "rule of law with Chinese characteristics" and said it will lessen the influence of local officials over courts.

But the country's conviction rate remains close to 100 percent, with only 778 acquittals last year and nearly 1.2 million convictions, according to official data.

Source: Agence France-Presse, December 29, 2015

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