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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…

ISIS fighter executes own mother in Syria for 'apostasy,' rights groups say

ISIS Publicly Executes A Man In Raqqa in January 2016.
ISIS Publicly Executes A Man In Raqqa in January 2016
(CNN) An ISIS fighter has executed his own mother before a public audience, an expat Syrian rights group said.

The 20-year-old killed his mother in the Syrian city of Raqqa, ISIS' de facto capital, as hundreds looked on near the post office where she worked, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

ISIS had accused her of apostasy after her son turned her in, the activists said. She allegedly had been "inciting her son to leave the Islamic State." 

She wanted to escape with him and told him "that the coalition will kill all members of the organization."

The observatory reported that the victim was in her 40s. 

The activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently reported that she was 35.

CNN has not been able to independently confirm the reports of the rights groups.

ISIS has fostered a reputation of extremism by carrying out executions such as beheadings, mass shootings and burnings on camera and posting video of them to social media.

Source: CNN, January 8, 2016

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