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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…

Saudi Arabia executes 70th convict this year

Public execution in Saudi Arabia
Public execution in Saudi Arabia
YADH: Saudi Arabia executed a citizen convicted of murder on Sunday, bringing the number of people it has put to death this year to 70.

Alaa al-Zahrani was found guilty of killing fellow Saudi Abdullah al-Sumairi with a rock to the head, the interior ministry said.

He was put to death in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, said a ministry statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

The 70 executions so far this year include 47 death sentences for "terrorism" carried out in a single day on January 2.

Most people sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia are beheaded with a sword.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia executed 153 people, most of them for drug trafficking or murder, according to an AFP count.

Amnesty International says the number of executions in Saudi Arabia last year was the highest for two decades.

However, the tally was far behind those of China and Iran.

The kingdom has a strict Islamic legal code under which murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape, homosexuality and apostasy are all punishable by death.

Source: Agence France-Presse, March 6, 2016

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