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Why Texas’ ‘death penalty capital of the world’ stopped executing people

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Since the Supreme Court legalized capital punishment in 1976, Harris County, Texas, has executed 126 people. That's more executions than every individual state in the union, barring Texas itself.
Harris County's executions account for 23 percent of the 545 people Texas has executed. On the national level, the state alone is responsible for more than a third of the 1,465 people put to death in the United States since 1976.
In 2017, however, the county known as the "death penalty capital of the world" and the "buckle of the American death belt" executed and sentenced to death a remarkable number of people: zero.
This is the first time since 1985 that Harris County did not execute any of its death row inmates, and the third year in a row it did not sentence anyone to capital punishment either.
The remarkable statistic reflects a shift the nation is seeing as a whole.
“The practices that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is following are also signifi…

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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