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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…

Indian jailed for 14 years in Bali drug-smuggling case

Bali's Kerobokan prison
Bali's Kerobokan prison
An Indian man was jailed for 14 years today for trying to bring crystal methamphetamine into the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

Denpasar (Indonesia), March 28: An Indian man was jailed for 14 years today for trying to bring crystal methamphetamine into the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

Sayed Mohammed Said was arrested with 1.5 kilograms (53 ounces) of the narcotics hidden inside his backpack when he arrived at Bali airport from Bangkok in September. The 30-year-old claimed the package belonged to a friend and he did not know it contained drugs.

But he was found guilty Monday at a court in the Balinese capital Denpasar, and a judge handed down the 14-year sentence.

The prison term was lower than the 20 years recommended by prosecutors and he escaped a possible death penalty. 

Indonesia has some of the world’s toughest anti-narcotics laws. People caught smuggling more than five grams of some controlled substances can be sentenced to death.

Said’s lawyer Daniar Trisasongko said his client was still considering whether to appeal.

“The verdict is too stern considering my client was unaware he was carrying drugs. We will study it further before deciding the next step,” Trisasongko told AFP.

Foreigners are frequently arrested for attempting to smuggle narcotics into Bali, a popular holiday destination famed for its palm-fringed beaches.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo launched a tough campaign against narcotics use in 2014, which culminated in the execution by firing squad last year of seven foreign drug convicts including two Australians.

But the move drew worldwide condemnation, and the government has since shown little sign of preparing for more executions, saying it is focused on fixing the economy.

Source: Press Trust of India, March 28, 2016

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