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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…

Indonesia: Police Tight-Lipped About the Death Penalty in Cyanide Coffee Case

Jessica Kumala Wongso
Jessica Kumala Wongso
Jakarta. Police remained tight-lipped on Wednesday (02/03) about Indonesia's guarantee that murder suspect Jessica Kumala Wongso, a permanent resident of Australian, will not face the death penalty.

The Jakarta Police have sought assistance from the Australian Federal Police in their investigation into the case of Wayan Mirna Salihin, killed in early January from drinking cyanide-spiked coffee at a cafe of a high-end Central Jakarta mall.

Jakarta Police officials last week flew to Australia to discuss the case, and said the Australian government has officially approved their request.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Sunday that a spokeswoman for Justice Minister Michael Keenan, who personally signed the request, had told Fairfax Media: "The Indonesian government has given its assurance to the Australian government that the death penalty will not be sought" against Jessica.

Jakarta Police general crimes director Sr. Comr. Krishna Murti, meanwhile, confirmed to Fairfax Media the approval came after Indonesia's Attorney General's Office guaranteed it would not demand the death penalty.

But Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Tito Karnavian, asked on Wednesday about the guarantee, replied: "I will not comment on the matter. It is better to avoid further polemics."

"I have called on my subordinates to just focus on collecting evidence and completing the case dossiers," Tito added.

Police said that Australian authorities will assist in investigating the relationship between Jessica and Mirna, who had studied together at Billy Blue College of Design in Sydney and the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne.

Police have charged Jessica with premeditated murderer under Article 340 of Indonesia's Criminal Law. If found guilty, she may be sentence to life or at least 20 years in prison.

Source: Jakarta Globe, March 2, 2016

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