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Why Texas’ ‘death penalty capital of the world’ stopped executing people

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Since the Supreme Court legalized capital punishment in 1976, Harris County, Texas, has executed 126 people. That's more executions than every individual state in the union, barring Texas itself.
Harris County's executions account for 23 percent of the 545 people Texas has executed. On the national level, the state alone is responsible for more than a third of the 1,465 people put to death in the United States since 1976.
In 2017, however, the county known as the "death penalty capital of the world" and the "buckle of the American death belt" executed and sentenced to death a remarkable number of people: zero.
This is the first time since 1985 that Harris County did not execute any of its death row inmates, and the third year in a row it did not sentence anyone to capital punishment either.
The remarkable statistic reflects a shift the nation is seeing as a whole.
“The practices that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is following are also signifi…

A year after the Bali Nine executions, Indonesia prepares firing squads again

Indonesian police officers
Deaths of eight prisoners, including two Australians, prompted a huge outcry – and a pause in executions. But now foreigners on death row fear their own sentences could be just weeks away

There’s chatter that it’s on.

Talk that the death squad is at the ready; that a new, bigger execution ground is in the making. Officials say it could be just weeks away.

And after the circus last year, the security minister Luhut Panjaitan hopes there will be less “drama” this time around.

One year after the international uproar and the diplomatic fallout over the execution of eight drug traffickers – including two Australian men, Bali Nine pair Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran – it appears more executions could be on Indonesia’s horizon this year. Among the foreigners on death row in Indonesia are two Britons, convicted drug smugglers Lindsay Sandiford and Gareth Cashmore.

“I still don’t want to believe it,” says lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis, who this time last year was fighting to save the lives of Chan and Sukumaran. “Yes, there will probably be a statement, but in the end I don’t think there will be any executions. I refuse to believe it.”

After 14 prisoners were executed at dawn in two separate rounds in early 2015, a third round has been on hold for the past year, ostensibly for economic reasons, but perhaps, in part, for political ones, too.

This month, even as Indonesia was being booed at the United Nations for reiterating its support for the death penalty for drug offenders – a punitive action that runs counter to international law – the attorney general Muhammad Prasetyo indicated that another round would go ahead.

When questioned on the matter by German chancellor Angela Merkel on a recent visit to Berlin, Indonesian president Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, defended capital punishment as a justified approach to the country’s “drug emergency”.

There is nothing definitive yet, no date, and no official list of the next prisoners to face the firing squad: the Indonesian government is keeping its cards close to the chest. But some are still operating on the assumption that it is probably just a matter of time.

“The last information we received is that the attorney general has asked the parliament for the budget for the third round,” says Putri Kanesia, from the Jakarta-based human rights organisation Kontras.


Source: The Guardian, Kate Lamb, April 28, 2016

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