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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…

Iran: Supreme Court Confirms 100 Death Sentences for Ghezel Hesar Prisoners

Death row inmates in Ghezel Hesar Prison, Iran
Death row inmates in Ghezel Hesar Prison, Iran
Iran Human Rights (MAR 2 2016): In the last month Iran's Supreme Court has reportedly confirmed 100 death sentences for drug offenses.

At least 100 prisoners in Ghezel Hesar Prison (in Karaj, northern Iran) are in imminent danger of execution after their death sentences were reportedly confirmed by Iran's Supreme Court.

Iran Human Rights is aware of some of their names: Amir Ali Kakavand, Hamed Nazarirad, Seyed Ali Jalali, Afshin Kehrari, Mohsen Eydi, Hamid Moradi, Iman Esmaeili, Hossein Azari, Kavous Farhadi, Mohammad Zareh, Majid Vadipour, Reza Karimzadeh, Mahmoud Davarpanah, and Alireza Keshavarz.

A prisoner in Ghezel Hesar Prison tells IHR: A prosecutor from the revolutionary court visited the prison and told the prisoners they've reached the end of the line and should prepare for execution because their death sentences were confirmed by the Supreme Court.

According to close sources, the prisoners objected to their death sentences but were not given the chance to appeal before the Supreme Court issued confirmation. In the past many prisoners in Iran with drug charges have not been granted the right to appeal.

After a two-month break it appears that Iranian authorities may be preparing for a new wave of executions. Iran Human Rights is deeply concerned and calls on the international community to focus on the death penalty in Iran. "We are warning against a new wave of executions in Iran. Iranian authorities have a pattern of reducing the number of executions a few weeks before an election and then executing a large number of prisoners afterwards," says Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, spokesperson of Iran Human Rights.

In December 2015, 70 members of Iran's parliament reportedly signed a proposal for a change in legislation to end the death penalty for drug offenses. The bill must be approved by Iran's Guardian Council before it can be passed. Iran Human Rights and several other human rights NGOs have repeatedly called on the United Nation Office on Drugs & Crime and donor countries to stop providing equipment, funding, and technology to Iran until the death penalty is no longer issued for drug offenses.

Click here for photos of Ghezel Hesar prisoners on death row in the prison's courtyard. This is the first time the photos of these prisoners is being published. They are all in imminent danger of execution.

Source: Iran Human Rights, March 2, 2016

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