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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…

Mississippi House proposes firing squad as execution method

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Mississippi House wants to allow the state prison system to execute prisoners using a firing squad if officials decide lethal injection is too expensive or unavailable.

The House amended Senate Bill 2237 Friday before passing it 80-39, sending it back to the Senate for more work.

The measure makes secret the names of prison employees at an execution and the pharmacy providing lethal drugs.

It also makes secret the names of family members of the prisoner or crime victim.

First Amendment advocates say that measure unconstitutionally restrains free speech.

Supporters say the measure protects those involved in executions from harassment by people who oppose the death penalty.

Attorney General Jim Hood has asked lawmakers to approve alternate execution methods including the firing squad, electrocution and the use of nitrogen gas.

Source: The Associated Press, March 25, 2016

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