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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…

Iran: Ten Hanged in Northern Iran; Young Death Row Prisoner Commits Suicide

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.

Iran Human Rights (DEC 22 2015): On the morning of Monday December 21, a prisoner charged with murder was hanged at Amol Prison (in the province of Mazandaran) and one prisoner charged with murder was hanged at Qazvin Central Prison (in the province of Qazvin).

According to Iran state run news agency, Fars, the prisoner from Amol Prison is "Abbas A., 31 years old". The Judicial Department of Amol says the prisoner was 27 years old at the time of the murder and was jailed for four years before his execution. In a report by the Judicial Department in Qazvin, the prisoner from Qazvin Central Prison is "A. Fallah".

Iran Human Rights (DEC 22 2015): A prisoner by the name of Moslem Shojah Heydari, who was jailed and on death row for several years, reportedly committed suicide at Ghezel Hesar Prison on Sunday December 20.

According to close sources, Heydari was 26 years old and sentenced to death for drug charges. The close source says Iran's Supreme Court had recently confirmed Heydari's death sentence.

A prison mate of Heydari tells IHR: "Overcrowding at the prison, the stress of living in the shadow of death, and very tough prison conditions are some of the reasons why there has been an increase in the number of prisoners committing suicide at Ghezel Hesar Prison. In our ward alone, at least three or four people commit suicide each month by drinking a mixture of methamphetamine and water.

Source: Iran Human Rights, December 24-23, 2015

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