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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…

Juvenile reportedly executed in Pakistan

Pakistan this morning [Dec. 16, 2015]  reportedly executed Saqi Shah, who was arrested and convicted when he was 16 years old.

Shah, who was sentenced to death in June 1992, had already spent 23 years in prison – 20 of which have been on death row. According to the Asian Commission for Human Rights, Shah’s birth certificate shows he was born in April 1975, making him 16 at the time of his conviction. The execution of juveniles is illegal under Pakistani and international law.

Executions in Pakistan resumed a year ago on Saturday (December 19th), after a moratorium had long been in place. Since then more than 300 people have been executed, including 5 juveniles, according to international human rights NGO Reprieve which has been tracking the executions.

Among those juveniles is Aftab Bahadur, who was 15 at the time of his arrest for a crime of which all eyewitnesses in the case said he was innocent. Faisal Mahmood, another juvenile, was also executed earlier this year, despite the fact that not even the Government's own lawyers disputed his age.

Saqi Shah's execution is at least the fifth documented execution of a juvenile prisoner executed in Pakistan this year, although given problems with birth registration in the country it is likely that the real number is far higher.

Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve’s Death Penalty team, said: “It is shocking that the Pakistani government is continuing wilfully on their course of executing person after person, day after day. It is all the more horrific that untold numbers of those being executed were convicted when they were just children – just like Saqi Shah reportedly was. The Pakistani government must put a halt to all executions so that they can fully investigate who exactly they are trying to kill.”

Source: Reprieve, December 16, 2015

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