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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…

New Hampshire: Death penalty suspension coming up for Senate vote

New Hampshire's scenic Mount Washington Valley
New Hampshire's scenic Mount Washington Valley
New Hampshire's state Senate is poised to take up a bill that would effectively end use the death penalty in the state without flat-out repealing it.

Republican Sen. Kevin Avard is the primary sponsor of a bipartisan measure to "suspend" use of the death penalty until "methods exist to ensure that the death penalty cannot be imposed on an innocent person." 

New Hampshire is the only state in New England with the death penalty still on the books, and efforts to repeal it in 2014 deadlocked in the 24-member Senate.

The vote in Thursday's Senate session will be close, likely with 1 or 2 votes determining the outcome. 

Not all senators could be reached Friday by The Associated Press for a full vote count.

Source: Associated Press, February 29, 2016

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