'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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…

Guyana passes terrorism law with death penalty provision

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) — Guyana's parliament has approved anti-terrorism legislation that includes the death penalty for certain offenses and would allow rendition of suspects to other countries.

Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan told skeptical opposition lawmakers during a debate that ended late Wednesday that the legislation is necessary to make sure the South American nation does not become a haven for terrorists. 

He says allowing rendition would prevent abuses of the extradition process.

The ruling party used its one-seat majority to pass the bills during the National Assembly's final session for the year

 All members of the opposition abstained. President David Granger is expected to sign the legislation into law.

"Draconian times require Draconian measures," Ramjattan said during debate that stretched into the night.

Opposition lawmakers said that the provisions allowing the death penalty for terrorism offenses that resulted in death would violate human rights and they criticized the government of pushing through the legislation without submitting it to a committee for further review.

"This is a travesty," said Gail Texeira, an opposition member of the parliament. "Government cannot state what is the urgency in passing these bills."

Ramjattan brushed aside calls for removing the death penalty clauses, saying the option of capital punishment would "have that preventative, dissuasive effect" on potential offenders.

Source: Associated Press, December 31, 2015

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