FEATURED POST

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

Image
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…

Bill to abolish death penalty in Kentucky defeated

Downtown Harrodsburg, Kentucky
Downtown Harrodsburg, Kentucky
FRANKFORT, Ky. – A bill that would have abolished capital punishment in Kentucky was rejected by a House committee Wednesday despite claims from opponents that the death penalty is unworkable, too costly and sometimes results in convictions of innocent people.

"The death penalty you support is not the death penalty we have," Rep. David Floyd, a Bardstown Republican, said in appealing to fellow lawmakers to approve House Bill 203, which he sponsored.

HB 203 would replace a death sentence with life without possibility of parole.

But members of the House Judiciary Committee rejected HB 203 on a vote of 9-8 with several committee members expressing unwavering support for the death penalty including Rep. Robert Benvenuti, a Lexington Republican, who spoke against the bill.

"It will never, ever have my support," Benvenuti said.

Still, supporters of ending the death penalty said they were encouraged that the measure got a hearing and a vote before a legislative committee for the first time since 1976 when the General Assembly voted to reinstate the death penalty after it was struck down by a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

"It's progress," said Rev. Patrick Delahanty, chairman of the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. "We'll be back. Some of them will be gone. Things change."

Several people joined Floyd to speak in favor of ending capital punishment in Kentucky including Joe Gutmann, a former assistant commonwealth's attorney in Jefferson County who prosecuted death penalty cases, and retired Jefferson Circuit Judge Steve Ryan, who said he had presided over such cases and imposed a death sentence.

Gutmann said he once supported the death penalty but has come to oppose it because of the frequent mistakes in the judicial process and the fact that innocent people on death row have been freed in Kentucky and other states after they were exonerated.

"Innocent men are sentenced to death as are guilty ones," he said.

Also speaking in support of abolishing the death penalty was Marc Hyden, advocacy coordinator for the national organization Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty.

"We believe the death penalty is inconsistent with our core principle of valuing life," Hyden said.

But several lawmakers who voted against the measure brought up heinous crimes that had occurred in their districts, arguing the death penalty should be available in such cases.

They included Rep. Johnny Bell, a Glasgow Democrat, who mentioned last year's brutal rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl in southern Kentucky.

"For me, when it comes to the death penalty, I think about what you have to do to get there," Bell said.

Kentucky currently has 32 people on death row at the Kentucky State Penitentiary at Eddyville.

The last execution was in 2008.

Executions currently are suspended in Kentucky by order of Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd over questions about the drugs used for lethal injection and how to determine the mental capacity of those sentenced to die, Delahanty said.

Source: Courier-Journal,  Deborah Yetter, March 9, 2016

- Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com - Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

20 Minutes to Death: Record of the Last Execution in France

Alabama set to execute 83-year-old for pipe bomb murders

Iran: Execution Of A Sports Coach In Hamadan

Texas: Why This Judge Dreads Execution Day

California death row inmate to be freed; no retrial planned

Vengeful Alabama to Kill 83-Year-Old Man

Jeff Sessions: It's OK with feds if Alabama executes judge's killer

Iran: Juvenile Offender Mohammad Reza Haddadi at Imminent Risk of Execution

Middle East tops death penalty list with 'gruesome tally' of executions

Iraq: French female Daesh member escapes death penalty, given life in jail