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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…

Malaysia: Why the rush to execute three last Friday?

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Hindraf Makkal Sakthi, an ad hoc apolitical human rights movement, has urged the government to put in place a moratorium for all pending executions until it introduces a Bill in Parliament to abolish capital punishment in totality. "This has been assured by the de facto Law Minister and the Attorney-General."

Hindraf Chairman P. Waythamoorthy was expressing shock over the execution of 3 individuals by the authorities on Friday morning and condemned it. "The hastiness in the execution of these 3 individuals raises many questions."

"It was arbitrary. It was an uninformed method of execution by the Prisons Department."

Waytha, a human rights advocate and senior lawyer in private practice, could not understand why there was a rush to execute the 3 individuals. "They were only sentenced in 2011 and their Federal Court appeal was dismissed in 2014, not so long ago."

The Hindraf Chief pointed out that there are currently over 1,022 persons on death row and the Prisons Department had stated, according to the Death Penalty Worldwide Report, that no execution had been carried out since 2013. "More than 50 % of these estimated 1,022 persons facing the gallows have been waiting for their execution for more than 5 years."

Hence, he said, Hindraf was perplexed why the three individuals were "specifically targeted" for execution. "We can question the criteria used by the authorities to select who should be hanged."

Again, he argued, the decision by the authorities was wrong and conflicts with the statements and indications given out to the public by the government, more recently by the de facto Law Minister and the Attorney-General.

He reiterated that it was therefore shocking the government apparatus was going against its intentions by executing the 3 individuals hastily, more so when they have only recently exhausted their final appeal.

He has been left wondering what the real intentions were in executing the trio "hastily". "There could be other motives behind this."

Waytha referred to several statements from the government on capital punishment.

The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department and de facto Law Minister, Nancy Shukri, was reported by The Star Online on 17 November 2015 as saying that the government intends to abolish the mandatory death sentence, in particular for drug related offences, and said that punishment should be left to the discretion of the Judge. The amendments to the law was supposed to be tabled at the next sitting in March 2016.

In the same statement, the de facto Law Minister also said she does not believe that death sentences are effective in curbing crime. She added that "we need to find other ways like education, motivation or something else".

Earlier, on 13 November 2015, Attorney-General Mohd Apandi Ali said he would propose to the Cabinet that the mandatory death penalty be scrapped. He said mandatory death sentences were a "paradox" as it robbed judges of their discretion to impose sentences on convicted criminals.

These statements show that there's intention on the part of the government to abolish the death penalty, said Waytha who was briefly in the Federal Cabinet not so long ago and in the Senate.

Source: freemalaysiatoday.com, March 26, 2016

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