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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…

California Death Row Inmate Dies of Natural Causes

California death row
California death row
Seventy condemned inmates have died from natural causes since California reinstated the death penalty in 1978

An inmate sentenced to death over 30 years ago was pronounced dead Saturday morning of natural causes in a California jail.

Bernard L. Hamilton, was sentenced on March 2, 1981, by a San Diego County jury for the 1979, first-degree murder and second-degree burglary of Eleanore Buchanan.

Hamilton kidnapped, murdered and dismembered Buchanan’s body after she caught him burglarizing her van. He had a prior conviction for burglary in 1973.

Hamilton had been on death row since March 4, 1981.

Seventy condemned inmates have died from natural causes since California reinstated the death penalty in 1978.

Twenty-five inmates have committed suicide, thirteen have been executed in California and two were executed in Missouri and Virginia.

Eight other inmates have died from other causes, and one cause of death is pending.

There are 747 offenders on California’s death row.

Source: nbcsandiego.com, March 28, 2016

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