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Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

German state to finally get rid of death penalty

Frankfurt, Germany
Frankfurt, Germany
The central state of Hesse is overhauling their constitution, making sure to get rid of one thing in particular that no other state has: the death penalty.

In the wake of the Second World War, Germany wrote a new Constitution with reforms intended to shake off its violent Nazi past, including to clearly define where the country newly stood on the death penalty.

"Capital punishment is abolished," states Article 102 simply, with no further explanation.

The Constitution, or Grundgesetz, was signed in 1949, but just three years before, the state of Hesse apparently had its own ideas about capital punishment.

"For especially severe crimes, the sentence can be death," dictates Article 21 of Hesse's state constitution, written in 1946.

Now, 70 years later, Hesse is at last working to clear up this inconsistency.

When the Grundgesetz was approved, it immediately superseded the state law, thus making Article 21 essentially irrelevant. Even during the three years in between those legal documents being signed, capital punishment was never exercised in Hesse, though it was used in other parts of the country, according to Tagesspiegel.

Hesse's state legislators met this week to discuss reforming the constitution, which would also include changes like lowering the minimum age of voting in state elections from 21 to 18 - something else unusual to Hesse.

The last time Hesse attempted to negotiate a similar major constitutional reform, which included changing the death penalty, was between 2003 and 2005, Hesse parliament spokeswoman Carola May told The Local. But the various parties could not agree on the proposed changes. The death penalty remained.

To finalize the reform, Hesse will have to put forth a referendum to the people.

In Europe, only Belarus maintains the death penalty in both law and practice, while 102 countries worldwide have abolished it.

In a surprising survey 2 years ago, a law professor in Bavaria found that 1/3 of his students and aspiring lawyers supported the death penalty.

Source: thelocal.de, March 18, 2016

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