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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…

Texas has enough drugs to carry out scheduled executions

Texas Death House, 'The Walls' Unit, Huntsville, Texas
Texas Death House, 'The Walls' Unit, Huntsville, Texas
With the first execution of the new year scheduled next week, Texas prison officials said Wednesday that the state has a large enough supply of drugs to carry out the executions already scheduled for 2016.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has been forced to find nontraditional suppliers of execution drugs in recent years because the usual vendors refused to make their drugs available following scrutiny from death penalty opponents.

The state was struggling to replenish its supply of the powerful sedative pentobarbital over the summer, but was able to obtain enough doses to execute six inmates between June and November.

There are nine lethal injections scheduled this year.

"The agency's supply of pentobarbital was purchased from a licensed pharmacy that has the ability to compound," TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark said Wednesday.

There is one more execution scheduled this month, one in February, three in March, two in April and one in June.

Condemned murderer Richard Masterson is set to be put to death Jan. 20 for the 2001 slaying of female impersonator Darrin Honeycutt in Houston. Masterson strangled the victim and stole his vehicle following the murder.

One of the inmates scheduled to die this year is Robert Pruett, who was given a new execution date this week. His lethal injection has been set for April 27.


Source: The Item, Cody Stark, January 14, 2016

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