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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…

China Sentences Man to Death for Espionage, Saying He Sold Secrets

BEIJING — In a sign of China’s increasingly aggressive efforts to combat espionage and other security threats, the government said it had sentenced a former computer technician to death for selling 150,000 classified documents to foreign spies, according to state media reports on Tuesday.

The man, Huang Yu, 41, worked for a research institute specializing in cryptography in Chengdu, a city in southwestern China

He sold the materials, which included military codes, from 2002 to 2011, making about $700,000, the state-run broadcaster China Central Television reported. The government did not specify which spy agencies he had assisted.

Mr. Huang’s death sentence was the first known case of a Chinese citizen’s receiving the death penalty for espionage since 2008, when the government executed a biomedical researcher and a distant relative of his, accusing them of passing secrets to Taiwan.

The trove of information Mr. Huang is accused of selling, including 90 top-secret documents, is one of the largest known leaks in China in recent years, national security experts said.

Under President Xi Jinping, China has sought to rally the public behind the cause of catching foreign and domestic spies. Last week, China celebrated its first National Security Education Day, and security officials have established an anti-spying hotline.

In 2014, Mr. Xi signed a counterespionage law to more extensively track foreign spies and Chinese citizens who assist them. Last year, the government approved a sweeping national security law, broadening the definition of what constituted a violation.


Source: The New York Times, April 19, 2016

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