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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…

More Malaysians want end to mandatory death penalty, online poll shows

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Over 1/2 of Malaysians surveyed in an online poll want the government to scrap the mandatory death sentence that leaves judges with no discretion to hand down lighter punishments.

Conducted by Barisan Nasional (BN) component Gerakan, the online poll results showed 838 online respondents were in favour of abolishing the mandatory death sentence while 685 respondents disagreed with judges being given the discretion to decide sentences, the party's Youth wing leader Chai Ko Thing told a news conference today.

"As you can see from the results of votes garnered, the ratio is those who agreed are 55 % and those who disagreed is 45," the Gerakan Youth Legal Bureau chief said.

The survey results were collected from 1,523 anonymous Internet users over a 3-week period from January 22 and February 15 through Gerakan's online poll site bettermalaysiapoll.org.

The survey posed just 1 question: "In your opinion, should Malaysia abolish the mandatory death penalty?" and the results were based on the number of "Yes" or "No" clicks obtained.

According to Chai, the mandatory death penalty in Malaysia applies to various crimes such as murder, firearm possession, kidnapping with ransom, waging war against the King and drug offences.

However, he said the government has currently shown its intention to remove the mandatory death penalty for drug-related offences, a move he said is backed by public sentiments based on the poll results.

He said Gerakan had, in 2013, initiated a petition titled "No to death penalty", adding however the scrapping of mandatory death sentences may be a good starting point and middle path.

"So the party's stand on this issue is we are going for total abolishment of death sentence, but as a start from the result of this poll - it seems to be divided, maybe to remove mandatory, then we work towards total abolishment of death sentence," he said.

Source: themalaymailonline.com, February 18, 2016

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