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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…

Nevada: Vegas architects to design new $860,000 execution chamber

Nevada Death Chamber
Nevada Death Chamber
Nevada officials are contracting with a Las Vegas firm to design a new execution chamber at the Ely State Prison.

The state Board of Examiners voted Tuesday to approve a $94,000 contract with the architectural firm Kittrell, Garlock and Associates. 

The funds will go toward remodeling a courtroom area and part of the visitation area to accommodate executions.

Nevada lawmakers approved $860,000 this spring for a new execution chamber. 

The state's existing death chamber at the shuttered Nevada State Prison in Carson City is not in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, and state officials have said for about 4 years that they wouldn't be able to carry out capital punishment there.

Executions remain rare in Nevada, which has only carried out the death penalty 12 times since 1977.

Source: Associated Press, December 9, 2015

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